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How to Self-Edit Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

How to Self-Edit Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

Beyond • March 4, 2015

Whether you are a seasoned writer or a small business owner blogging for the first time, writing is the easy part. It’s the spelling, grammar, and editing that gives people fits. If you have the first draft of your blog post done, good news: the hard part is over. Once your ideas are on paper (or on screen), it’s a lot easier to refine or rewrite them. We’ve put together a few editing tips that will take your rough drafts from paltry to publishable. Take a Break Don’t go straight from writing your post to editing it. Take a walk, run an errand, hit the gym – just get away from your post. I like to return to my rough drafts a full day later. Looking at your writing with fresh eyes will help you see the flaws in your logic, delete what is unnecessary, or determine what needs to be expanded. Remember Your Readers When you edit, always ask “how does this help my reader?” You’re writing the post because it has value for your audience, so make sure that value is clear to you and to them. Active vs. Passive Voice Passive voice is when something happens to someone; active voice is when someone does something. Here are some examples – which sentence sounds better? Jim was running to the bus. Jim ran to the bus. Probably the second one, right? That’s because the second one is in active voice, not passive. Active voice indicates confidence in your argument, makes your writing punchier, and clarifies your point. Confusing active and passive voice is common blogging blunder, along with these 10 common grammar errors. Short Sentences Longer sentences are harder to understand, so keep your sentences short and to the point. Don’t be afraid of sentence fragments. Seriously. They help break up your content, and they’re a great way to express your personality and keep your tone light-hearted and enjoyable. Don’t Use Jargon Unless you’re writing for a very specific audience, use plain English words that anyone can understand. Jargon can alienate your audience and make your argument unclear. Verbs and Adverbs Use exciting verbs. Instead of “walked,” try “sauntered.” Or instead of “ate,” try “devoured.” Boring verbs are, well, boring. Using animated verbs eliminates the need for adverbs. For example, instead of staying “Jim ran quickly to the bus”, try “Jim sprinted to the bus.” Only use an adverb if it changes or affects the ultimate meaning of your sentence – if you’re using an adverb to intensify an action, pick a punchier verb. Read Out Loud I always read my blog posts out loud because it helps me find sentences that don’t flow properly. Blog posts should be conversational, and reading your writing out loud helps you find where your post reads a bit too formal or informal. It also helps me locate any wayward typos or grammar errors, even ones that I missed on my first four or five rounds of editing. The editing phase is when you take your blog posts from average to extraordinary. Don’t be afraid to completely rip apart your first draft! That’s what first drafts are for. If you still think your posts need improvement, have a writing buddy edit them. A fresh pair of eyes is always a good idea!


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6 Tips for Writing Your Own Copy in 2015

6 Tips for Writing Your Own Copy in 2015

Beyond • January 7, 2015

It’s easy to write content for your blog or website, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to do it well. Sure, anyone can sit down and pound out a blog post on how to unclog a drain or the dos and don’ts of making pastry dough, but the ability to simply do something is never any guarantee of quality. The unfortunate reality of a world focused on disciplines like engineering, technology, and medicine, is that developing writing skills seem to have taken a backseat to “more employable” and “more lucrative” pursuits (not that we have anything against engineers, tech innovators, or doctors). The good news is that there is, and always will be, a need for clear, clever, and engaging writers. You don’t have to have a degree in English to be a good writer (though it certainly does help), so we’ve put together a few tips to get you started writing your own copy. Too Much Branding No one wants to read a blog that only publishes overtly promotional posts. Describing what your new product can do is great, but it can be boring and probably won’t bring in visitors that aren’t already looking for your product. Follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of your content should be unbranded but related to your product offering, while the remaining 20% can be promotional. The trick is to figure out what your target audience is talking about and what they want to read, and then creating content that is actually useful. If you sell hardwood floors, don’t write a post about how great your floors are – try writing a post about how to choose the right wood color for your décor. Remember Your Audience Always keep your audience in mind when writing copy. Use keyword research and social monitoring to find out what they’re talking about and the language they’re using, then join the conversation. Don’t write an article for a homeowner looking to choose their own floors if your target audience is interior designers. Stay On Topic One of the first things any English major will learn is to be concise. High school teachers seem to love flowery, extravagant language, but most people prefer it if you get straight to the point. Make your point clearly – it leaves less room for interpretation and argument, and clearly sends the message you want to send. Choose one topic for each webpage or blog post. If you’re writing an article on how to choose the right floor color, don’t digress and talk about how to choose matching draperies. Save that topic for another post – that way, you end up with more content, and it’s usually better quality. Keyword Optimization Your copy should be optimized for your target keywords, but it shouldn’t be overly repetitive. Don’t force your keywords into your copy – let them flow naturally and your audience will thank you for it. No Personality The hardest part about writing your own copy, especially blog copy, is developing a personality. I find the best way to do this is to just start writing. Write how you would talk, get a first draft done, and then as you edit and proofread you can clean up the language. If you have a funny comment to make, make it! Always keep your writing politically correct. If you’re not sure whether someone will be offended by a particular opinion or joke, it’s best not to express it. The Biggest Mistake… The worst mistake a novice copywriter can make is to not proofread and edit their writing. There will always be a typo, inappropriate word, run-on sentence, or improper comma to fix, so always proofread your work. Edit it two or three times, and try reading it out loud before you publish it. That way, you can tell if your sentences flow together, if your point actually makes sense, and catch any wayward typos or grammar errors in the process. If you’re not confident with your writing skills, hire a professional copywriter. High-quality copywriting signals a high-quality product or service offering. Professional copywriters can help you craft creative copy that will attract new audiences and keep your current readers engaged and ready for more.


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Why Storytelling Must Be Part of Your Content Strategy

Why Storytelling Must Be Part of Your Content Strategy

Beyond • September 24, 2014

It’s no secret that creating great content is a must. Content is the present and future of your marketing strategy. Whether you are developing a website, building your social media presence, optimizing your website or blog for SEO, creating a content marketing strategy, or refining your inbound marketing, there is one common denominator that MUST be the focal point – content! Slapping together SEO articles and blogs posts won’t do it anymore. To truly make an impact and compete in the crowded and competitive marketing landscape online, you need content that has depth, is focused, engaging, informative, and insightful. You need to develop content that your users want, and content they are searching for online. Diversity is Key Repeatedly writing about the same topics, in the same format, and posting it on the same day every week will bore your readers. This is why you need to take new approaches to how you present content. One of the most effective ways to create engaging content is through storytelling. People Love Stories – So Write Stories! Everyone loves a good story, and our lives are filled with them. The stories that play out in movies, the stories we tell to our friends, the stories we have lived, the stories we see on the news, and the stories that are written by others in books, magazines, and increasingly online by bloggers. There is a reason why stories have been told since the beginning of time – they are entertaining and engaging – and when used effectively, can be a very successful marketing tool for your brand. Why Include Stories in Your Marketing Strategy Stories create personal connections: How many times have you read a story and thought to yourself, “I have been there before.” When this happens, you are creating a personal connection with users – something that will help them better identify with your brand. Great stories are engaging: Stories are engaging. When you can engage readers, there is a great chance they will come back to your website, giving you the opportunity to further develop your relationship with them. Stories reach people on an emotional level: Connecting with your customer on an emotional level is powerful. It builds trust, proves your brand’s worth and leads to interaction on a deeper level. Stories provide insight: Every great story has a lesson. This insight can help readers solve a problem or look at a situation in a new light, making stories entertaining and informative content. Stories are perfectly designed as sharable content: Stories go viral – and every brand wants their content to go viral. Stories can be told on many platforms: Stories can be told in many ways using many different types of media. From your blog, video, podcast, and more, telling stories using multiple platforms can help you expand and broaden your online exposure. Try something new the next time you sit down to write a blog post or article. Take your blog post idea and turn it into a story. While it may seem like an old school approach, you may just open up your brand to an entirely new audience. Happy storytelling!


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5 Reasons Why Your Content Is Not Going Viral

5 Reasons Why Your Content Is Not Going Viral

Beyond • August 25, 2014

Everyone wants their content to go viral, right? Why else would we spend hours and hours working on blog posts, creating infographics, and crafting engaging messages on your social media accounts? We want people to read it. There is a big difference between creating content and creating engaging content that people want to read and share with their friends online. If you are not getting the results you want from your content development plan and failing to get the far reaching exposure that will expand your brands online presence, then you need to make a change. Unfortunately, creating great content does not necessarily mean that it will go viral. There are a number of key reasons why your content is not going viral. The following points bring to light some of the most common mistakes that professional and novice content creators make when creating online content: 1. Your content lacks an emotional connection: Tapping into your readers emotions is essential. People love content that appeals to their emotions, especially when you tap into problem areas and offer viable solutions. Start by using emotional words and phrases in the title of your blog post or video and try using a basic problem/solution style in the body of your post. 2. Your content in not inherently shareable: One of the biggest mistakes that people make that prevents their content from going viral is that they create non-sharable content. This is why it’s viral to understand your audience and tap into their interests. Write about topics they want to read about, be current, tell a story, and provide the information your audience is searching for online. 3. Your timing is off: Timing is everything. For example, no one cares about romantic date ideas to sweep your sweetheart off their feet on Valentine’s Day if it’s posted on February 15th. This is important for everything you post. When you post is also very important – look into the times and days of the week when your content is most likely to shared and create a timeline that will help you maximize the impact of your content. 4. Your content is not visually appealing: Looks matter! Your content need to look the part. The design needs to look professional, have attention grabbing elements, and be visually appealing to your audience. 5. You are not sharing on the right social channels: If you want your content to go viral, you need to not only share it on the correct social channels online, you also need to tap into the audience that is interested in reading and sharing your content. Think about your connections. Do you know any friends, family, or colleagues that have influence in topic area? Is there a particular social media channel that is intuitive for the type of content you want to share? Rectifying these issues to better position your content will help you reach a wider audience – an audience that is looking for and actually wants to read your content.


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Why it is Time to Get Serious About Google +

Why it is Time to Get Serious About Google +

Beyond • July 3, 2014

It’s no secret that many internet marketers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs are still on the fence when it comes to using Google + on a regular basis. Some seem to think it is not worth their time investment, while others speak volumes about how effective of an online tool it is to promote your business. Google Announces Google My Business With the recent announcement of Google My Business, there is no doubt that if you have not used Google + in the past, now is the time to get onboard. In the past, many companies were skeptical of using Google + because of the confusion with Google + Business Pages, Google Places and Google Maps. To be honest, it was a mess. It was difficult to manage as companies had multiple profiles and did not provide much help in terms of tech support and how to most efficiently use these tools collectively to connect with users. It also didn’t help that many believe that Google + is somewhat of a ghost town – but joining a few of the Google + communities proves otherwise and is a great platform to share your online content. Google My Business is Googles solution to this mess and is being billed as a platform for merchants to effectively manage their online presence on Google maps, Google +, and search. Now back to the topic of this post – Why it is time to get serious about Google +. Even with its perceived flaws, Google + has proved to be beneficial for your brands online presence and for search engine optimization. We all know that Google is the king when it comes to SEO, and for this reason alone, you cannot afford to continue to ignore Google +. Here are some reasons why now is as good of a time as ever to get onboard with Google +: Adding content to Google + will help get your content indexed faster. There are a number of studies that show that there is a connection between number of +1s and search ranking and visibility. Google + gives your business an additional listing in search results and Google maps results. With increased visibility through Google +, you can generate more traffic to your website and experience higher click through rates. As an early adopter you will be well positioned to maximize the effectiveness of Google + as it evolves. Even though social signals, like +1s, have not been found to have a direct impact on SEO and search results, they help to validate content and links, providing greater exposure for your content, which will benefit you from an SEO perspective. The more exposure you can generate for a post, the more likely that it will be shared, linked to, viewed, and the more traffic you will generate – All positive SEO effects. This is exactly what Google + helps you to achieve and Google My Business will only make this easier to accomplish.


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5 Tips for Maximizing the Effectiveness of Twitter to Promote your Blog Posts

5 Tips for Maximizing the Effectiveness of Twitter to Promote your Blog Posts

Beyond • May 8, 2014

By now it is safe to say that most people and businesses that produce content online understand the importance of sharing their content through Social Media profiles once a blog post or article goes live. You have probably also noticed that Twitter can be one of the best ways to gain some traction for your content and generate some traffic for your website or blog – If you do it the right way, that is. The following outlines a number of important and simple to implement strategies to help you get the most out of your content using Twitter. The title of your article is not always the best way to use your 140 characters Even though it seems to be the default and simplest way to share your latest content on Twitter, writing the title of your post and adding a shortened URL is not the best way to use your limited characters. If you want gain more exposure, re-tweets, shares, mentions, and have your tweets favored by other users, it is important to customize your message. While you can do it on occasion, don’t always hit the tweet button and send your post without giving it some thought. 5 Ways to increase engagement for blog posts using Twitter Use tips: Rather than using the name of your blog post, you will get more engagement if you offer up a tip from your blog post and then provide a link to your post. For example, if you had a blog post titled “5 Tips for using twitter to promote your blog post” you are better off using one of the tips you mentioned in the post (i.e. “TIP: Include stats in your twitter messages to increase re-tweets URL #Hashtag1 #Hashtag2” Use Statistics: People love statistics. If you have statistics in your blog post take advantage of them by including them in your tweets. For example, “Find out why XX% of people get more re-tweets when they use stats in Tweets URL #Hashtag1 #Hashtag2” Ask Questions: Asking questions are a great way to engage people in conversations on Twitter. If you posed questions in your blog post, use them. You can also think of questions related to your post that will get your twitter followers attention. The more thought provoking the question, the more attention it will receive in twitter feeds. Recycle posts: Recycling posts is a great way get some traction after you initial Tweet has gone out. Keep in mind that reposting exactly the same message over and over can be redundant, so try to change up the messaging in your tweet each time you link to your blog post.A great way to do this is to use the tips or key messages from your blog post in your twitter message. Using the example above, if your blog post is titled “5 Tips for using twitter to promote your blog post” you could conceivable write 5 tweets using each one of the “5 Tips” as content for your tweets. Time Tweets correctly: Timing can play a big role in the level of engagement that you can expect for your tweets and for your blog posts. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the times when you get the most traction on your twitter account. Also, don’t forget to automate and schedule your posts so they go out at optimal times. Do you find that Twitter is one of the most effective social tools to promote your content online? What tips and tricks to you find yield the best results?


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7 Content Ideas to Fuel Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

7 Content Ideas to Fuel Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

Beyond • March 18, 2014

It is becoming abundantly clear that companies need to change their approach to marketing – outbound is out and inbound is in. With consumers becoming savvier to traditional marketing tactics, it is clear they are no longer buying what companies are selling with their outbound campaigns. With this shift in approach to inbound marketing comes with it a need to focus more on content development and creating content to feed inbound campaigns to provide value to customers and keep them coming back time and time again. 7 Content Ideas to Fuel Your Inbound Marketing Strategy Think of your inbound marketing strategy as a vehicle and your content as the fuel that makes it run effectively. Successful campaigns always keep the tank full of fuel by offering their customers high quality and diverse content across multiple touch points online. To keep your inbound marketing strategy well stocked with content to engage users and nurture your relationship with customers, here are a seven effective ways to keep your content flowing: Blogging: While this may seem obvious, there are still thousands of companies that are not blogging and missing out on its SEO and inbound marketing benefits. Guest Bloggers: Who says you have to write all the content yourself? Guest blogging are a great option for adding another voice and perspective. However, make sure that you use bloggers who add value to your blog and can offer information that your users are interested in reading. Guest blogging for the sake of guest blogging will prove ineffective over time. Answer Questions: Your customers ask you questions all the time. Use these questions to create content. It is simple content to create. All you have to do is listen! Summary/Resource posts: If you find a blog post or article interesting, then it is likely your customers will as well. Keep a list of links to resource your readers would find interesting and put them into a summary post each month. Email Newsletters: Email newsletters are a great way to maintain regular contact with your blog subscribers. The content you can provide is endless – blog posts, promotions, news and announcements, and anything else you think is relevant. eBooks and How To Guides: If a blog post just won’t do a specific topic justice, then perhaps it makes sense to dig deeper into the topic and create an eBook or How To Guide. Fact Sheet/Checklists: Who doesn’t love fact sheets and checklists, right? They are multifunction, diverse, and you can use them for a variety of purposes - features, advantages, benefits, highlighting new products, and anything else you think your users would find interesting. Don’t forget to get social and share all the great content you create for your inbound marketing campaign. Sharing will just help to extend the reach of your campaign that much further.


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Show Your Blog Some Love

Show Your Blog Some Love

Beyond • February 18, 2014

With Valentine’s Day just passed, and with love in the air, I thought it is as good of a time as ever to look at ways to show your blog some love and give it an upgrade. With many companies and bloggers using the first part of the year to improve their website and get their content strategy in order for 2014, now is the perfect time to improve your blog and make sure it is in line with your marketing strategy this year. Content development, blogging strategies, internet marketing, and of course, Google are ever changing and showing your blog some love from time to time will ensure that you stay on top of things. 5 Ways to Show Your Blog Some Love Here are five ways that you can show your blog some love. They include: Give it a new look. Just like with your website design, the look of your blog cannot remain static. To keep new and returning users interested you need to change things up. You will also need to change design elements as they become dated and more effective and efficient options become available. A few simple changes here and there (i.e. updating the format or adding a new header image) can go a long way. Break up the text with visuals. Adding visuals to your blog posts is a must these days. Simply embedding an image into your post can have a significant impact on click through rates and how much your post is viewed, shared, and liked on social media. You have lots of options – images, screen shots, embedded videos are just a few of the most popular options. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! Post More Frequently. Posting more frequently will not only give your users more to read, it will also help your website get crawled by search engines more frequently - an added SEO benefit. But remember – always focus on quality content over quantity. Get your tagging and categorization in order. One area that often gets messy over time is tagging and categories. Invest some time in reviewing and refining how you categorize posts on your website. Limit the number of categories you use and only use one category per post. The same is relevant for tagging. Keep things simple and only use the most relevant tags given the topic of the blog post. Improve usability. Doing things like improving pagination, internal linking and adding “Previous” and “Next Post” buttons will make it easier for users to navigate through your website. The easier it is to use, the easier it will be for your users to find what they are looking for. When is the last time that you make changes to your blog? Did the changes provide the results you were looking for? Are you planning on making changes this year? What were they?


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Content Planning for Small Businesses in 2014

Content Planning for Small Businesses in 2014

Beyond • January 8, 2014

Small business owners seem to always find themselves in a predicament when it comes to content development. They seem to have enough time to create enough content to get by. They add a few blog posts per month, post on social media and change their website when promotions and other things arise. However, they tend not to have the time or resources to create and manage a full scale content marketing plan – even though content is continuing to prove to be an effective way to generate traffic, create brand awareness and bring in new customers. Whether you are outsourcing your content development, email marketing, and social media or are doing it in-house, make 2014 the year where you create a functional content plan for your business. In a matter of a few hours you can create clarity, have everything organized, know what you are going to write about, and have a schedule for when and how you will create content for the year. How Do I Create A Content Plan for my Business? There is no one right way to create a content plan for your business. Your content plan will be unique in the sense that you will address your specific business and online marketing goals and objectives. The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to develop a functional plan that makes sense for your content needs and a plan that is realistic given your budget and time commitment. What to Include in your Content Plan Here is a list of what you can include in your content plan: A content development budget. How much money allocate to content? Will it be allocated solely to blogging? What about website pages? Guest posts? Social Media Management? Assessment of your current website and content. What are you currently producing? How can your content be improved? What opportunities exist? Who will create the content. Will you be writing the content? An employee? A freelance writer? Who has final say before the content is published? A list of Targeted Keywords. What keywords are you targeting? What is your primary keyword term? How will you integrate keywords into your content? A schedule to post content on social media. When? How often? And, what social media sites will you use to distribute your content? What hashtags will be used? What social media management tools will be used? What email marketing tools will you use to email content? An editorial calendar. What days will you post? What time of day? How many posts per week? Will you preload your blog posts? Who will upload the content to your blog/website? A list of topics. What do you want write about? What content are your users interested in? What subjects need to be addressed? These are some of the main things that you need to include in your small business content plan. Remember, your content plan does not need to be complex. Many people use an excel file to organize their content plan. Keep things simple! Does your small business have a content plan? Why? Why not? Do you plan to create one this year?


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The Role of Social Signals in Internet Marketing

The Role of Social Signals in Internet Marketing

Beyond • November 25, 2013

There is no doubt that social media has changed the internet marketing landscape. People and companies are downright obsessed with social media. We need to stay in the loop and keep up with what people are saying and what is trending online. This situation has changed the role of social signals. Social signals such as “likes” re-tweets, and shares, are much sought after. They are a sign that what you are posting and the content you are creating is high quality and provide value to the people that see it. The importance of social signals in internet marketing Social signals are increasingly becoming a more important SEO, social media, and internet marketing factor. You need to assess these factors and include them in your analytics to get a full view of the impact your content, SEO, and marketing strategy is having online. Why you need to pay attention to social signals There are a number of important reasons why you need to pay attention to social signals. They include: They tell you what content and posts your audience likes They tell you what content that your users DON’T like They provide you with insights about your targeted users They can help you shape and refine your SEO and marketing efforts Failure to pay attention to these factors could be catastrophic to your marketing campaign. It could cost you a lot of money unnecessarily by failing to see the important role these signals are playing in online marketing. Google’s stance of social signals If you are not convinced yet about the importance of social signals, then the following sentence should seal the deal for you: Google is now considering social signals as a factor in their search algorithm. Why do you think that Google is putting some much emphasis on Google +? They see the value and information that are derived from social signals. When someone “likes” or shares your post, it is an indication that there is something of value that other people might find interesting as well. How social signals impact your marketing and content strategy Social signals impact your marketing and content strategy in the sense that social media must be included in your strategy. Once you create your content, you need to market it via social media such as Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and other relevant platforms, by sharing the links to your content online. The more you share, the more people see it, the more people like it, the more traffic you generate, and the more of an impact it will have on your SEO efforts. If you would like more information about how to implement social signals into your internet marketing campaign, talk to an SEO professional. They will be able to help you determine the best strategy for increasing the virility of your brand online.


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