The Calm Road to Content Creation

'dan' of fdp.netLast week, we discussed what it takes to create content burnout. How did that work for you? Which points were too close to true? Which have you previously tried, endured and terminated?

There’s no need to hang your head in shame. It happens. Often. I’ve encountered burnout too. Just take a look at most websites. Do they have a blog? Check the dates as you scroll through. Are they consistent? Do they come in fits and spurts? Some will start off daily, then whittle down to weekly, monthly and then drop from existence.

A sure sign of burnout.

Are you ready for a content plan that won’t drive you crazy? Proceed slowly and you’ll get it done right—and with success:

  • Choose your content: Not sure what content will work for you? Take a look at Got Touch Points for ideas. Choose options (from either list) that are practical for you, your audience and your industry. TIP: Limit options to 1 or 2.
  • Create a content calendar: Schedule it! Add it to your schedule just as you would a client meeting. Include prep time. Plan your blogs at least one week ahead of schedule. That way you avoid stressing, rushing and procrastination. Give yourself time to think, write, find suitable images and to share or publish your content. A quarterly plan is the ideal starting point. TIP: schedule a reward for reaching each goal!
  • Blogging: Your starting point to thought leadership. That doesn’t mean you have to blogging daily, 3x/week or even weekly. I often recommend to clients that once per month is the best starting point for beating blogging fears, overcoming previous burnout, and adjusting to the process.
  • Staying ahead of schedule: Schedules get crazy, but your content is necessary. You and your business will benefit from it. The best road to content success is staying on top of your schedule. TIP: if you dread creation above all else, establish time in the morning to GET IT DONE—before preferred activity begins. Or before your lunch break. Or before you close shop for the day. All you need is ~300 words and a little incentive helps—then you can reward yourself!
  • Keeping an idea book handy: Ideas strike at any time and we’re too busy to trust our brain to remember them all. If you must reserve time to GET IT DONE, this idea list will save you the time-wasting hassle of coming up with ideas.

Did you notice that these are planning techniques for content creation? Lack of planning is where most headaches and burnout come from. Take the planning process slow and steady and you’ll avoid burnout for the life of your business.

Do you have planning or content tips to get it done? Share below. Or, share with your network if you know others that struggle.

Happy writing,
Kris the Scribbler

(photo credit goes to “dan” of freedigitalphotos.net)

Headline Headaches and How to Avoid Them

David Castillo Dominici freedigitalphotos.net

Headlines are one of many stumbling blocks when it comes to writing for our business. How many of us have stared at the blank page just trying to come up with a potential headline that will spark an idea.

First of all, coming up with a headline for an unknown topic is tougher than coming up with an idea. If you’ve got a blogging project ahead of you and are stuck with ideas, start here. Then take those ideas and work through a few headlines. Thanks goes to Joanna Brown of The WordHen who found and shared this link on the Kris the Scribbler facebook page: 7 Ways to Write Headlines that Get Clicks.

In the article, the author, Whitney Cole, identifies 7 types of headlines:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Be honest
  3. Use shock and awe
  4. Show them how to do something
  5. Solve a problem
  6. Include the reader in a group
  7. Promise big benefits

She even provides excellent examples for each. What’s missing, however, is how to take one idea and spin it to fit all 7 headline categories. So I’m taking the topic of blogging for business and providing a headline for each headline type.

  1. Ask a question:

Will Blogging for Your Business Really Help?

  1. Be honest:

Lessons Learned from Not Blogging for My Business

  1. Use shock and awe:

How I went from Guest Blogger to Paid Blogger in Less Than 3 Months

  1. Show them how to do something:

How to Build a Relationship through your Blog

  1. Solve a problem:

Not sure what to do with the Blog You Just Wrote? Follow these Simple Steps.

  1. Include the reader in a group:

Blogging Tips for Boomers & the X-Gen

  1. Promise big benefits:

4 Blogging Habits that will Get You Noticed—FAST!

Notice how each headline type provides a different viewpoint for the same topic. Not only that, each one educates and helps your potential or existing client. Your product or service has several similar topics and headline ideas, as well, and with a little exploration into what you know and what your clients need to know, you’ll have many ideas and headlines fast!

Then, spread them out and intersperse with other blog ideas and you’ve filled your business blogging calendar for several weeks or months, depending on your blogging plan. An extra bonus: you can create a knock-out e-book, presentation or webinar from your topics.

And all this starts with a headline! Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Got a headline question or comment? Share it below!

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit goes to David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

Stuck On Blogging ideas? Your Latest Events Could Offer Inspiration

Ideas from Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net

One of the most asked questions is, “Where do I get blog ideas?”

Everyone gets stuck on this aspect of business-ownership (even me) and for some, it could be as unpleasant as pulling your own teeth. Part of the mental obstacle comes when trying to come up with something that WE think our audience would like to read. Most of the time, what ideas come to mind interest you (because no one loves what you do like you), so they’ll probably bore others.

Not so. You are the expert in your industry. In your niche. The people you have collected through networking, LinkedIn, groups, associations and organizations know YOU and they are trusting you to have the answers they need. Even if your industry is swarming with competitors, you have a unique neighborhood of contacts that a competitor does not. So write for them. Solve a problem for them. Let them know you are an expert. They may not need you right now, but someday they will and that’s when magic happens!

If you’re overdue to write a blog because you can’t find a topic, take a look at your work activity last week. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What business-related tasks did you do last week? (list 3)
  • What client tasks did you accomplish last week? (list 3)
  • What client questions did you answer? (list 3 to 5)
  • What events did you attend? (list 3)
  • Did you have to explain your expertise to anyone? If yes, what did you say?
  • What problems did you solve—either for you, your business, or a client? (list 2 or 3)

To give you an example of potential answers, here are mine:

What business-related tasks did I do last week?

  1. Gathered all my tax stuff and sent it to the accountant.
  2. Scheduled my social media posts for the next week.
  3. Created an interview outline for 5 upcoming interviews.

What client tasks did I accomplish last week?

  1. Edited a white paper for a client.
  2. Created a March editorial calendar for a client.
  3. Wrote a bio and presentation summary for a client’s upcoming event.

What client questions did I answer?

  1. How much does this cost?
  2. How long will it take?
  3. What will you need to write my bio?

What events did I attend?

  1. Online webinar about LinkedIn.
  2. 1 Million Cups
  3. Venture Café

Did you have to explain your expertise to anyone?

  1. Yes; the word ‘copy writer’ gets confused with ‘copyright’. I explained the difference by saying the copy WRITER writes what a business needs to attract clients. The copyright deals with the distribution and use of the creator’s product, service or idea.

What problems did you solve?

  1. Problem for me: finding a quiet location to work when the family is home all day.
  2. Problem for client: refining a tagline that ‘just didn’t work for her’.

Next, review the answers and decide which ones would make a good blog post. Experiment with title ideas. Here are a few blog ideas from my events:

  • 5 Top Interviewing Tips for Any Business Owner
  • How an Editorial Calendar Prevents Blogging Headaches
  • The Best Info Needed for an Unbeatable Bio
  • Business Lessons Learned at 1 Million Cups
  • Copy write vs Copyright: Make Sure Your Prospects Understand Your Profession

Can you see how ideas generate from your everyday activity without seeming ‘every day’? Not only that, you’ve got enough blog topics for a week or a month.

Got questions? Comment below. Your question could end up as a great blog topic!

Happy writing!
Kris the Scribbler

photo courtesy of Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net

Winding Down or Revving Up?

How do you feel about the twelfth month of the year? Outside of the obvious holiday parties, prep and pandemonium, how does this month rate for your business? For many there’s a desire to finish up projects before January 1. For others, there’s the desire to get a head start. Since I’ve been in business, I’ve experienced each one of the following categories that summarize what this month means to me business-wise. Perhaps one of these resonates with you:

Winding down: You’re the type that wants to complete all your current year projects and start the new year with a clean slate. Whether completing client services, selling your inventory, sending out holiday mailings or end-of year sales letters or blogs, you want it all done before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

Winding up: You’ve finished your projects ahead of schedule and you’re revving the engines now to start the new year with a bang. This could include attending extra networking meetings and parties, writing a series of blogs, updating your website for new product or service offerings, starting a newsletter, or more.

Keeping up: You’ve got projects coming and going, with many stretching into the new year. You may squeeze in some time to write a blog or newsletter, maybe offer a presentation, or participate in educational courses that will better you and your business.

No matter which category you’re in, your customers are your biggest motivator. What do they need from YOU? What new services or products can you provide? Did you learn something this year that can be applied to 2013, making your business stronger and your customers happier? What ideas come to mind right now? Write them down. Then expand and define those ideas. Now take a look at what you’ve got. Which ideas would make a good blog? Or article? Or newsletter topic? Or service offer on your website? Chances are you’ve got something content-worthy staring right back at you. Refine them a little, then work them into your editorial calendar.

What are your goals for 2013? I wish you a new year full of peace, joy and success. Let’s make it great.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Peace and plentiful writing,

Kristen McLain

The Four-Step Plan for Creating an Editorial Calendar

When you hear editorial calendar, what comes to mind?

a.   A national consumer magazine

b.   A publishing company

c.   Radio/television programming

d.   Business Owner

More than likely, all but ‘d’ were your top thoughts. Before the paradigm shift in content marketing, you would have been right on target. Now an editorial calendar is a critical, yet overlooked tool for a business owner’s successful marketing campaign.

Why?

Because so much influences your business and the content you create. For many business owners already swamped with running a business, writing fresh, entertaining and engaging content may add to the hassle.

How can an Editorial Calendar help? Let’s take a look at your everyday business influencers.

Internal influencers

  • Personal
  • Personnel
  • Products and service

External influencers

  • Customers
  • The economy
  • Local and national events
  • Competition

(What influencers would you add?)

Whether you write a blog, a newsletter, a sales letter, or any form of social media, pulling snippets from any of the above will add relevancy and personality to your content. Without a plan, however, your content may end up unorganized, untimely and stale. An editorial calendar will  provide the basic theme or topics for your content, then will make your messages easier to write and more interesting to your readers.

As discussed in the previous blogs, Think-Ahead Tips for a Better Newsletter and Putting it All Together, pre-planning your editorial calendar helps reduce stress and pressure for creating the content your business needs—and your audience expects. Explore these four steps to create a functional editorial calendar for you and your business:

  1. Start with topics or themes: This is where you start with ideas. What topics come up monthly or annually? What issues occur within your industry? What questions would your readers like answered? What tidbits would entertain or educate your readers? At this stage, you don’t need to be specific—a few key words will do the trick—as long as you’ll remember your thoughts a month or two from now. If memory is an issue, write a more in-depth paragraph or two. Don’t lose that great idea. The more you write when the idea is fresh, the more you’ll remember when it comes time to finish the article, blog or email. Working at least one quarter ahead, fill your calendar with your ideas. As influencers occur, write a small blurb about how it relates to the topic.
  2. Which comes first? Do you like to blog and then post everything to your social media sites? Do you follow-up with a sales letter? Include each step on your calendar so you don’t miss anything important. Do your influences play a part of which content comes first? Some topics may respond better to a social media update first rather than a blog.
  3. Who is contributing? Where will your content come from? Do you hire it out? Do you write it yourself? Do you share content with complementary businesses? With social media, do you share, like and retweet content for your readers? List sources and resources. These may change over time and having a handy listing will save time and frustration when it’s time to create or even document your content. These sources have influencers of their own that may add unexpected twists to your content.
  4. Set dates for writing and posting/publishing. There are plenty of apps that will send reminders when these tasks are due, but if you don’t have an established calendar, how will you know when to prepare? Consider prep and planning dates for each step. When do you want to write each piece? When do you want to publish? The more you pre-plan, the more time and energy is saved.

Now let’s return to the influencers.

Events happen every day. Is there something from the list that would make a good story for an upcoming theme? If so, scribble a few sentences on your calendar to connect the event with the theme. Again, if you’re concerned you’ll forget, write a few paragraphs while the idea is fresh.

For example, let’s say you’re on schedule to write a blog post about gift and estate taxes (De-Friending Uncle Sam from John Beidle of 1040 Wealth Designs, LLC). John was able to tie in current events—Facebook’s public offering—with his blog topic. Facebook made news in a big way that week and John found the perfect connection for his topic.

Watch for the same with your content. Creating and maintaining an editorial calendar will keep topics, events, news and resources top of mind, thus making content creation easier and more successful.

Peace and plentiful writing!

Kris