Does Your Content Have Impact?

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Have you ever stepped back to analyze why some articles or blog posts make you laugh, cry and take action and others just leave you feeling absolutely nothing?

Do you know how your content affects your readers?  Does it move them?  Connect with them? Does it take a firm grip; embed itself in their memory so they’re talking about your content with friends and associates?

To create this effect, consider tapping into three fiction-writing concepts:

•    Hook
•    Pace
•    Show don’t tell

Why These Fiction Concepts Work for Your Non-Fiction Content

While I’ve been writing content and copy for a number of years, I have actually been a fiction writer all my life.   I also review romance novels for a national magazine.  When I quit my day job to become a web content writer, I quickly realized the overlay between these two formats.

Let’s take a look these fiction concepts individually and how you can apply them to your non-fiction content for maximum impact and connection.

Hook: In fiction writing, the hook is the thing that gets the reader to turn the page and continue reading. You’ll find the hook generally in the first sentence or two of the book and then often at the end of each chapter.  Pick up a favorite book on your bookshelf and read the first couple of sentences and then read the last sentence of the chapter, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Typically, a hook will motivate you to ask a question and wonder what’s going to happen next – it has to be compelling.

The same holds true for your content.   Your very first paragraph needs to hook your reader into wanting to read more.  You can accomplish this by asking a question, making a promise, making a potentially controversial statement or sharing a story.

Pace: Pace can be defined as the speed a person reads your story.  If the story is a tight action packed suspense then the pace is going to be quick.  If it’s a long epic romance then the pace is going to be a bit slower.  You create and control the pacing in your content by choosing your sentence structure.  Shorter sentences create a fast-paced piece and longer sentences create a slower paced piece.

Typically, on the web and with informative content, you want your pace to be pretty fast, which means shorter sentences and short paragraphs. However, making every sentence short can make your content feel choppy.  Thus, some variety in your sentence length will create a better flow.  If you’re prone to long sentences, spend a few minutes to break them up, your content will read easier.

Show don’t tell: You may be familiar with this concept if you’ve ever taken any type of creative writing course.  It essentially asks you as a writer to create a scene for your reader thus creating more impact and a stronger connection with your content. Show them what you’re talking about rather than telling them.

For example, if someone says “they sky is blue.”  Your response is going to be “yes it is,” “duh,” or “so?”

However, if someone says, “The sky stretched overhead, a never-ending warm Caribbean ocean.” You form a very distinct image in your head.  (Hopefully, your metaphor is a bit more original and interesting than mine!)

In addition to charts, graphs, and personal stories, showing is often done through figurative language like metaphors.  The metaphors you choose in your content not only provide insight to you and your personality (an essential aspect of branding your business) they create a connection with your reader.  That’s the beginning of influencing them, converting, and of course building a community of prospects.

As a reviewer, I enjoy reading books written by southern writers because they have some of the funniest and most descriptive euphemisms.  It helps create a connection between the reader and the character. In your content, it’ll help create a connection between your reader and you.

Keep a swipe file of content you really connect with and enjoy.  Study it to find the three elements mentioned.  Look for the hook, investigate the pacing and how it reads, and take a look to find those showing moments.  Once you understand the concepts, it’s easy to transfer them to your website content to create the impact you desire.

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Helping the Great Content Market Itself
But I Still Want Conversions

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effortJust read Problogger’s “The Myth of ‘Great Content’ Marketing Itself” and realize we’re in the thick of it right here at Contentrix.

When people look at great blogs that are ultra-popular, they might assume that it was just the great content that drove everyone there. I agree with Darren’s statement that:

“Each of the above statements [about content marketing itself] has elements of truth to it. Many bloggers have built successful blogs on the back of great content. However there are almost always other factors at play.”

But it’s rarely the content that completely drives it. It’s connections and visibility that brings people in. Word-of-mouth has a definite role, but for word-of-mouth to really take off, you still need those connections and visibility to start with.

I’m facing this reality here now. Contentrix has only been officially live for a couple of weeks and we’re starting to grow with very part-time efforts. Having come from a more popular venue (not Problogger popular, but popular to sustain a good living :-)), it’s a challenge starting at square one. Of course, some of the readers from there will follow along, but essentially we’re starting from the beginning.

But Conversions Are Still My Focus

Popularity is great and having tons of people consuming your content every day is AWESOME. But what I think is more important (at least for our goals and objectives)  is getting more of those visitors to become CUSTOMERS. That means that trying to grow the readership will take the backburner to getting more customers. After all, if I can have 10 out of 500 blog visitors become customers, I’ll take that over 5 new customers in a 1000 visitors. :-)

(Oh and side note, our teeny weeny blueprint sales pages have been converting at over 10% on very targeted traffic…not too shabby!)

I honestly haven’t logged into Feedburner to see our RSS subscription numbers and I’ve been a bit lazy to set up a newsletter. I know…SHOCKING…I LOVE email! What we have done though is in the short time we’ve been live, built a list of nearly 200 customers (many of whom bought more than once – and will buy again) with just a bit of effort. And that doesn’t even include the extra revenues we’ve brought to All Private Label Content & All Custom Content.

So yeah, in short, I agree with Darren’s assertion that good content doesn’t just market itself. A little effort goes a long way – whether you’re looking for readers, customers or both.

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How to Write a Product Review

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product-reviewWhen you want to buy a new product, it is logical to ask someone you trust what they know about the product. For the article writer or blogger, one way to get noticed, build that trust and create traffic (plus earn money through affiliate links)  is to write product reviews for your products and others.

A snippet about this product or that won’t cut it. You need a structured article that answers all of the questions buyers like you might have. Here are a few pointers for writing well-read product reviews.

1. Mention the product in the title. Some people think of titles like, “The Last Mop you’ll ever need.” That’s great, but without pointing specifically to a brand of mop, this article will be passed over for one that does. Instead you can say, “Swiffer WetJet: The Last Mop you’ll ever need.” That mentions the product up front and a little extra to bait the hook. This will be helpful for driving organic search traffic to your review.

2. Capture their attention in the first paragraph. What can you say about the Swiffer WetJet? Hit the high points in the first paragraph so your readers will know what will be discussed further down in the article. Mention the product again and what it has done for you.

3. List the pros and cons of the product. Readers can spot a sham product review in a minute. If it is just a glorified testimonial with no substance, you will lose readers for future product reviews. Be honest about the product. Some people may not consider the cons as important as the pros but they have the right to decide for themselves without you hedging your bets.

4. Add photos and screenshots. A visual can go a long way your review. Demonstrate key features or show the product in use. Sometimes multiple photos or screenshots (in the case of an online or digital product) can be very helpful.

5. List tips for improved use of the product. Maybe you know that the Swiffer WetJet works best if the Swiffer Sweeper is used first to get up as much dirt and grime off the floor. Let readers know that. You could sell them on another product. The point here is that tips like this let the reader know that you have actually used the product and are familiar with it. A little snippet doesn’t show any of that.

6. Allow comments. User comments offer even more valuable information to your readers. It also offers the confidence that you are bringing a balanced perspective to the review.

Product reviews can make you money through affiliate programs or promoting your own products. For a dynamite review, include the information mentioned in the four pointers above.

Give Your Readers What They Want - WITHOUT All The Hard Work - Pre-made fully-illustrated step-by-step tutorials make it easy to sell your products, build your list and grow your business. Click here to learn more.

The Mom Market – Still HUGE!
Reach Them with Online Content

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digital-momAfter Eric shared the 26 ideas of what to do with ebooks from Mom PLR Ebooks, I thought it was just as fitting that we share this informative article from the same source (co-written with my own All Private Label Content). While the  ebook ideas work for any market, this article focuses on delivering content to today’s tech-savvy mom. And interestingly enough, even if you don’t specifically target moms with your business, they are likely to have some influence on your market.

So with that in mind, let’s get to the article…

Marketing to Digital Moms: How To Reach Out To Today’s Tech-Savvy Moms

Gone are the days when the word “Mom” conjures images of a female who cannot operate the video recorder or navigate her way through the latest videogame, and only switches on the computer to send an email to Grandma.

According to a study published in 2009 by Razorfish and Cafemom, up to 27 million (84%) of Moms online are tech savvy. They use Web 2.0 platforms and shop online. In fact, they use communication technology and social media to connect with others, find advice and information, express themselves, do research on products they’re interested in, and simplify their multi-tasking lives.

“Digital Moms” have become so dominant on the Internet that the researchers concluded they are not a niche, but are rather the mainstream.

If you aren’t reaching out to digital Moms online yet, you might just be missing out on a significant market. Consider these numbers from the United States Census Bureau:

- Women control 80% of household spending. Even if they earn only a part or none of the total household income, women determine how much of the household income will be spent.

- Women do 60% of online shopping. Women do a lot of research online before making a purchase and actually make up more than half of online shoppers.

- Women buy 81% of all products and services. Women shop not only for themselves, but also for the home, family members, gifts for friends, teachers and associates.

The problem is, many online businesses just don’t seem to know what to do when it comes to marketing to digital Moms. They make the mistake of treating all Moms online as if they all had the same needs and reasons for using the Internet. Not true, according to the Razorfish/Cafemom report. For example, younger Moms tend to be more comfortable with social networking and mobile surfing. On the other hand, Moms 45 years old and above gravitate more towards online news, product reviews and podcasting.

What is the best way to reach out to today’s digital Moms? Here are three tips:

- Provide relevant content. Some of the online Mom’s interests depend on what life stage she is in. For instance, digital Moms with young children naturally look online for information about parenting and child health. But there are topics that most digital Moms are interested in, no matter how old their children are. These include fashion and cooking.

(By the way, Mom PLR Ebooks provides regular private label rights content just for Moms. For a monthly supply of PLR recipes and product reviews, check out the “All Mom Content” package of All Private Label Content.)

- Be present in the channels digital Moms are using. Again according to the Razorfish/Cafemom study, more than half of digital Moms use email, search engines, social networks, gaming and online news. Emerging channels used by about one-third of digital Moms include online videos, consumer reviews and blogs.

- Know the particular needs, interests and online habits of your Mom audience. Digital Moms have varying needs and surfing behaviors, depending on their age and their children’s ages. The best way to accurately understand your particular Mom audience is to listen to them. Ask your list subscribers what their concerns are. Conduct your own surveys. Hang out in Mommy forums. Pay attention.

The majority of mothers online are digital Moms. They are tech savvy, smart consumers who make informed decisions when shopping online. They’re also online for social networking and even gaming. But they have varying needs depending on their life stage and their children’s ages. To market effectively to digital Moms, you need to give them what they’re looking for online, be where they are, and pay attention to their needs. Take care of digital Moms and you’ll have a profitable online business.

Give Your Readers What They Want - WITHOUT All The Hard Work - Pre-made fully-illustrated step-by-step tutorials make it easy to sell your products, build your list and grow your business. Click here to learn more.

What to Do with Ebooks:
26 Things for Your Business

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ebookLast week, I shared 31 ideas for using special reports in your marketing. Let’s follow that up with some ideas for ebook. The ideas come from Mom PLR eBooks (use coupon code: “ebookboost” to get your first month for only $5) and we thought you might find them handy. Some ideas may overlap with the special report ideas, but I’m sure you’ll find some new gems and good reminders.

1. Break up the eBook into blog posts or articles for your site. Publishing fresh content frequently is a good way to build up traffic.

2. Answer questions. Use content from the eBook to respond to questions in Yahoo! Answers and discussion forums in your market. Of course, add a link to your site.

3. Turn the eBook into a training tool for your affiliates. Good affiliates are essential to your business.

4. Pull out content from the eBook to create a Squidoo lens, Hub Page and Google Knol. These Web 2.0 platforms are excellent sources of back links to your site.

5. Rewrite parts of the eBook into unique articles. Submit to Ezine Articles, Lady Pens, Associated Content, Go Articles, and other article directories. More quality back links for your money pages.

6. Break up the eBook into an e-course. You can either sell or give away the e-course.

7. Newsletter content. Take parts of the eBook and use them in your email newsletter or Ezine.

8. Give away the eBook to build up a mailing list. Readers will gladly give their email addresses for an eBook that addresses their problems.

9. Offer the eBook as a bonus for a paid product. Increase the value of your product.

10. Give the eBook away as an unannounced bonus to your customers. They’ll love you for it and will be happy to buy from you again.

11. Try a different medium. Take the most actionable parts of the eBook and create a printed promotional postcard, flyer or newsletter.

12. Rewrite the eBook for a more specific niche, such as “stay at home Moms,” “Moms of multiples,” “Moms of teens,” “homeschooling Moms,” etc. Create a new stream of income from another market.

13. Sell the eBook as a printed book through Lulu.com. Be where few Internet marketers are.

14. Expand the eBook. Make it into a self-study course, by creating mindmaps, cheatsheets and step-by-step guides.

15. Break up the eBook into an audio or teleseminar series, which you either sell or give away.

16. Transform each chapter of the eBook into a podcast via iTunes. Podcasts increase your authority, drive traffic to your site, and warm up listeners to your offer.

17. Use the eBook to create a slideshow or screen capture video. Use the video to market your product or service on video sharing sites like YouTube.

18. Read the eBook to create an audio product. Sell it as a digital product, or a preloaded mp3 player. You’ll stand out from your competition.

19. Translate the eBook into another language, and sell it in other countries.

20. When preparing for a media interview, get content from the eBook to build your key messages.

21. Make it smaller. Distill the eBook into a special report to either sell or give away.

22. Tweet it. Get the best nuggets of content from the eBook and turn them into Twitter tweets. Add a link to your site or squeeze page.

23. Reference it. Use the eBook as a reference material when writing a press release.

24. Transform the eBook into a white paper, which explains your product or service to your target market.

25. Bundle the eBook with other eBooks about related topics, to create a comprehensive home study course.

26. Break the eBook content down into group coaching sessions you give through teleconference, teleseminar or webinar format. Charge for the group coaching, or give free access to build your list.

Give Your Readers What They Want - WITHOUT All The Hard Work - Pre-made fully-illustrated step-by-step tutorials make it easy to sell your products, build your list and grow your business. Click here to learn more.

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