Best Blog Content Writers Read Around and Toggle


“Dreams, I’m convinced, are just one more dimension of our minds,” writes Sylvia Browne in her best-seller, Book of Dreams...

At Say It For You, I teach the principle of “reading around” in order to attain “go-to industry authority”.  In fact, I stress, business bloggers are going to need to spend at least as much time reading as writing. Even after almost a decade and a half creating blog content for business owners and practitioners, I continue to need to keep up on what others are saying on the topic, what’s in the news, and what problems and questions have been surfacing that relate to what my client sells and what it does for its clients. At least half the time that goes into creating a post is reading/research/thinking time, I’ve found. The writing part can flow only after prep time is complete.

Just last month, I quoted Carina Rampell of the Content Marketing Institute, who explains that our reading needn’t be limited to the subject of our blog content.  Poetry, she explains, can teach us clarity and precision, while the classics can teach us compelling storytelling structure. Browsing through the Sylvia Browne book on dream interpretation (hardly my usual choice of reading topic!) made me realize the truth of Rampell’s statement that “reading helps us get away from our subject or product expertise and unlock our creativity”.  

Every dream experience, Browne posits, is one of five kinds:
  • the prophetic dream
  • the release dream
  • the wish dream
  • the information or problem-solving dream
  • astral visits
“Knowing what type of dream I’m trying to interpret, Browne explains, “is always my first step in unlocking its mysteries.”

Business blog posts also come in different varieties.  From the content writers’ point of view, I’s generally a good idea to toggle back and forth among those varieties over time, keeping returning visitors engaged, but also in order to appeal to different types of reader. There are “how-to” tutorial posts, resources and link lists, reviews, opinion pieces, interviews, case studies, breaking news, and personal story posts. But, precisely as Sylvia Browne observes, knowing what type of post you are presenting helps unlock its “success”.

The best blog content writers have learned to read around and then – toggle among the types!
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Guest Post: Security Basic for Bloggers

 

Today’s post was contributed by friend Cody Lents, partner and change manager at Covi, a professional services information technology agency in Indianapolis, IN.

SECURITY BASICS FOR BLOGGERS

  1. Start by securing your admin portal. Here are 14 tips for doing this with WordPress.
  2. Make sure your blog is being automatically backed up with alerts for successful and failed backups. Then, occasionally double-check to make sure the alerts are accurate. Here are some plugins to help.
  3. Some of us want others to share our content as much as possible. But, in some cases protecting our authorship is a priority. Try using something like 33 Across’ Site Ctrl to protect from cut & paste plagiarism, and no matter your philosophy on ‘borrowed’ content you should set up your Google Authorship to maximize SEO.
  4. Implement hotlinking protection. I recommend CloudFlare or a WordPress plugin for this.
  5. Only install ‘Trusted Plugins’
  6. Ensure security plugins are installed. Here are 8 recommendations from one of my favorite cybersecurity organizations. – Make sure you choose one with built-in firewall security or get a separate firewall plugin.
  7. If you’re uncomfortable managing your sites security, pay a professional to do it. Typically, a simple blog site can be maintained for $100 – $200 per month.

Bonus:  If you really want to deter content theft you could dabble in this plugin. – Prevent Content Theft

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Horseback Riding Lessons for Blog Content Writers


“Like any sport or dedicated hobby, there are bigger life lessons to take away than simply the information or skills necessary to participate,” writes horseback riding fan Sarah Faulkner in bizjournals.com. Faulkner lists four lessons leaders can take from equestrians, each of which I believe can be valuable to us blog content writing professionals:
Look where you want to go.
As a leader you must have a well-defined vision and be able to clearly communicate it.
One concept I emphasize in corporate blogging training sessions is that focusing on main themes helps blog posts stay smaller and lighter in scale than the more permanent content on the typical corporate website. The posts fit together into an overall business blog marketing strategy through “leitmotifs”, or recurring themes. These themes tie together different product or service descriptions, different statistics, and different opinion pieces., but there should be little doubt of the main direction in which you “want to go”.
Communicate clearly, consistently, and confidently.
Reinforce verbal with physical commands, but do not give mixed messages.
Even while letting readers see your own “humanity”, keep your blog content well-organized and well-written to convey a feeling of being in control. Maintaining a consistent schedule of posting sends a reassuring message to readers.

Sense and respond to cues.
As a leader, you need to sense and respond to market forces such as trends and competition.
As I teach at Say It For You, blog content writers must develop “peripheral vision”, being aware of what competitors are doing and working to stay just one step ahead of them.
Tack up your own mount. 
Be willing to get into the details, keeping informed on the numbers and fundamentals of your business.
Successful blogging for business is all about detail.  Corporate websites provide basic information about a company’s products or a professional’s services, but the business blog content is there to attach a “face” and lend a “voice” to that information by filling in the finer details.  In horse shows, I learned, there are two aspects to winning medals – equitation and pleasure. Equitation refers to the skill and posture of the rider; pleasure refers to the horse’s looks and control.  To succeed in blog marketing, content writers must be willing to get into the details – navigation, search engine optimization, visuals, vocabulary.

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Design Thinking for Blog Content Writers


Design thinking is a process that helps companies and organizations solve problems, address challenges, and develop products,” a fascinating article in a recent issue of the Indianapolis Business Journal begins. Eureka!  At Say It For You, our blog marketing efforts are designed to demonstrate that our client companies and organizations can do those very same three things, I thought…

There are several different steps in design thinking, IBJ authors explain, and it’s best to move among the steps as needed. Meanwhile, I asked myself, how can we as content writers, use the first design-thinking step (Empathize) as a guide?

“See the problem you’re trying to solve through the eyes of the people facing it,” the authors suggest, exploring what the potential users of your product or service are saying, thinking, and feeling about the problem. 
I’ve written before about the concept of framing, meaning positioning a story in such a way that readers will focus on it and respect our blogging client’s expertise. In the course of delivering information (facts, statistics, features, and benefits, instruction and advice), we must create a perspective or “frame”.

Framing, a term that comes from behavioral science, is all about the Empathize step in design thinking. It’s about understanding in as much detail as possible what the target audience of readers is thinking, doing, and feeling about the problem our client is proposing to help solve.

While design thinking involves understanding what prospects are saying, thinking, and feeling about a problem, as content writers we need follow the advice client communications consultant Victor Ricciardi offers to financial planners: “Link your discussion to what clients will be able to DO or BUY with that (investment) income.”

When you’re composing business blog content, I teach at Say It For You, imagine readers asking themselves – “How will I use the product (or service)?” “How will it work?” “How will I feel?”  In other words, besides empathizing with prospects (where they are now), our job as content writers is to move them forward by helping them envision a good result. Readers found your blog in the first place, I remind writers, not because they were in search of your brand, but because of their own need. Needless to say, the blog must convey the fact that you can fulfill that need and that they have come to the right place. You must give online searchers a “feel” for the desired outcomes of using your products and services.
Blog by design – design thinking!
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Blog Content Writing Hopefuls Look for an Edge


The Indianapolis Star headline read: “GOP hopefuls look for edge in crowded 5th”, alluding to the long slate of candidates in Indiana’s 5th congressional district. As a corporate blog writing coach, I couldn’t help seeing a parallel.  As blog marketers, we’re seeking that “edge” in the competitive world of online marketing.  I paid close attention to the list of informational items listed under “Candidate Information”, and those included:
  • Age
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Previous work experience
  • Residence
  • Family
  • Website
“No matter what kind of a business you have, or how small or large your business might be, a blog will draw your prospects closer because they can learn about your business and what you sell.”  Quicksprout.com explains.

In terms of family information, “having a business blog doesn’t mean you need to be stiff,” the Quicksprout authors continue. “It’s okay to connect with potential customers on a personal level.  Just be sensible about sharing, maintain a good balance of business information and personality.”

So, which categories of information about the 5th District political candidates should find their way into online marketing pieces?

Age and previous work experience: How long you’ve been in business – or in practice- is definitely something prospects want to know. If the number is a small one, it helps to explain what motivated you to start the business or practice, and how your prior business or professional experience led you to start this enterprise.

The importance of “residence”, meaning the location of the business or practice cannot be overstated, writes Jason Luthor of azcentral. “A business’s location also helps it create a brand and image,” Luthor adds. Even for online businesses, Kirby Pricket points out in prospress.com,
Factors such as where we live, our friends, the local weather, and local brands still influence what we prefer and buy.

In the same way as Indianapolis Star readers may wish to learn more about particular Congressional candidates by visiting their websites, blogs (themselves a type of website with frequently updated content) can – and should –  lead readers to visit particular landing pages on the bigger website.
Like political candidates, business owners and professional practitioners are seeking an ‘edge” over their competitors. Blogging is one of the very best ways to establish that edge, Quicksprout asserts, since 70% of consumers learn about a company through its blog versus its ads.

 

 

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