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Five ways to tell a visually compelling story online (Sponsored Post)

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3d person holding a megaphone forming the word blog.

SNAG_Program-0665 In today’s digitally focused world, it can be hard to break through all of the clutter. This makes it increasingly important to stay on top of trends. As part of the Army Marketing and Research Group, we constantly think about how we can bring our target audience the information they seek, in the best possible way. As we look to where digital and social media will go in the next few years, one thing is for sure – visual storytelling is imperative for getting your message across online.

Below are five ways you can tell a visually compelling story online that will help you reach and engage with your audience:

1. Think Mobile First
For the first time in history, people are now using the internet more through their mobile devices than through their desktop computers (Business Insider). And with more than 61 percent of mobile phone users in the United States using smartphones (Nielsen), adapting your site(s) for mobile consumption ensures a seamless user experience regardless of device and allows for more interaction online.

2. Develop a Web Content Series
Web content series are a medium still growing in popularity and open to a broad array of multimedia. The Starting Strong program is an original content series that follows young men and women as they are immersed in the U.S. Army experience for three days, ultimately making the decision on whether or not to enlist. A fully integrated marketing approach is key to not only driving viewers to watch the content, but also to keep them engaged with your digital properties.

3. Multimedia Blogging
Now more than ever it is important to include video and photo elements in traditional text blog posts to keep your audience interested and engaged. More and more, photos, videos and GIFs are driving the bulk of online engagement as you look at sites that have achieved mass popularity. Consider embeddable videos, compelling photo visuals and other free tools to easily engage your audience online.

4. Infographics
Data is important. But most times, data can be hard to digest. Infographics can add valuable context to existing stories by using visuals to represent numbers, relationships and facts that might otherwise be overlooked. For example, our signature Soldier blog, ArmyStrongStories.com, houses an incredible amount of information such as how many Soldiers contribute to the site, which countries they’ve posted blogs from and how many comments their blog posts receive. An easy way for the Army to package this information is through a robust infographic that tells our blogging story in a visually appealing way.

5. Include Paid Social to Support Your Content Syndication Program
This year, widely used social networks, namely Facebook and Twitter, made design and layout changes based on imagery. In addition, the fast adoption of Instagram, Pinterest and Vine shows just how important visual storytelling is in social media marketing strategies. Using quality visual content, as well as allocating spend to paid social, are growing in importance to reach your core audience.

 

For more information on the social/online strategic media outreach programs at Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG), check out www.goarmy.com, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Are You Setting Yourself Up for Online Business Success? All You Have to Do is SMILE.

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smile Here at NMX, we have an all-staff meeting the day before the show to make sure everyone is on the same page and the event can run as smoothly as possible. Since I’ve been a part of NMX (and I’m assuming even before), one of the points our CEO Rick Calvert always makes is that we set the tone for the conference (find out more about the show here). Even when there are problems or we’re frustrated and tired, you’ll see us smiling in the halls, in sessions, and on the show floor. If the entire staff walks around grumpy, it won’t be long before everyone at the show is grumpy too!

It’s advice that has stuck with me and overflowed to my personal life as well. If you just smile, even when things are going wrong, y set yourself up for success. For me, however, smiling is about more than just putting on a happy face. That’s only step one. For true success, you can’t just smile…you have to SMILE: Share, Mingle, Initiate, Learn, and Empathize!

Share:

Whenever I am at NMX or even just “meeting” people online, I also try to share in whatever success I have. Even if I don’t overtly ask it, the question on my mind is always, “How can I help you?” Too many people in the business world are only concerned with, “How can you help me?” But if you share opportunities and help people as much as possible, others helping you takes care of itself. When you need a favor, people will jump to help you because of all the help you’ve given them in the past. Send people links (without being spammy), answer their questions via social media, and connect people via email. Share as much knowledge as possible in your industry so that people see you as the go-to person.

Mingle:

In every industry, there are cliques. It can feel comfortable and safe to only mingle with people you already know, especially if you are an introvert like I am. But if you truly mingle and get to know other people, your network will grow exponentially, which means more opportunities for you over time. Yes, it is important to strengthen the relationships you already have, but be aware that others might perceive you as being in this elite clique that isn’t interested in getting to know other people. Even online, you should spend time looking for new people to bring into your flock, rather than just following the same list of profiles forever. Check out these tips for finding new blogs to read.

Initiate:

A lot of people are shy. Really shy. Not only do you have to initiate the mingling, but you also have to initiate follow-up contact afterward. Even people who aren’t shy tend to be extremely busy. Be the person who sends holiday cards, emails just to say hello, and randomly promotes someone else via social media. Be the person who keeps relationships alive instead of relying on others to do so.

Learn:

The “L” in SMILE stands for “learn,” which means that I take the time to learn about other people. With the Internet, it’s not hard to do! When meeting someone new or even talking to old friends and colleagues, especially when uncomfortable with social situations, we have a tendency to talk a lot about ourselves. Flip this on its head. Ask questions and learn as much as you can about the other person. Then, make a note of what you’ve learned and learn more afterward by looking them up online. When you meet the person again, you want to be able to say, “Yes, I looked up your blog, and here’s what I think…” or “I signed up for the mailing list you were telling me about…” or whatever the case may be.

Empathize:

Lastly, an important part of the SMILE concept is learning when not to smile. Sometimes, people have problems and are upset at you, the situation, or the entire world. Learn to empathize, not just put on a happy face and placate people. Most people understand when you are insincere versus when you are actually trying to help them. So, when problems arise in your company or personally, really listen to people and come up with a solution as quickly as possible. It’s easy to feel defensive (guilty!), but most times it just makes more business sense to swallow your pride. Even when people are being mean, kill them with kindness.

Do you SMILE online? How can these concepts help your business?

Financial Terms Every Serious Blogger Should Know

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Who knew that blogging would someday become a legitimate career choice? And that a blog could be classified as a real business? Ten years ago, blogging was considered something cat lovers did in their spare time, and now it’s a bonafide business venture.

As a small business accountant during those ten years, I’ve seen it all. But the biggest thing I’ve noticed is the upswing in the amount of online ventures, such as blogging.

Blogging It’s not just a hobby that makes a little money, it’s a main source of income for many entrepreneurs — myself included. Unfortunately, there not a lot of expert advice available for organizing the financial part of running an online business.

Becoming Your Own Expert

We all know if you want any type of business to succeed, you’ve got to treat it like one! But with the lack of expertise available, we’re left to be our own financial experts — or at least have enough knowledge to stand behind our business.

It’s hard enough to tell friends and family that you’re a blogger, much less to find an accountant or financial advisor who can understand what your business does.

Even the IRS is so outdated they don’t have proper schedules and forms for income received through online ventures. So it’s up to us to research the right financial terms — and decisions — for our unconventional businesses.

  • Quarterly Estimated Taxes (QET’s)

The IRS requires that taxes be paid on income as it’s earned, which is why a traditional employer withholds taxes from earnings each paycheck.

But when you have your own business, you’re responsible to pay your own taxes on a quarterly basis. Otherwise you’ll get slapped with fees, if you expect to owe more than $1,000 in taxes at the end of the year. And let’s face it, no one likes to pay extra fees to the IRS.

Whether you run an LLC business of one, are a sole-proprietor, have an ecommerce business or sell digital products, it’s all the same to the IRS. But it’s important that you file QET’s on time, in order to minimize your audit risk.

  • Self-Employment Tax

As a business owner, you may not fully realize that on top of paying the normal Federal Income tax rate, you’re also responsible for your own Medicare and Social Security tax. When you work for an employer, they pay ½ of this tax, leaving you to pay the other half.

But with the privileges of being your own boss also comes the tax burden of having to pay the entire 15.3% of Self-Employment tax (SE tax). Add that to your effective tax rate and you could end up owing a lot of tax at the end of the year.

As a small business, you’re working with a tight budget, so start putting a simple plan in place now, so you don’t to get slammed with a large tax bill. For instance, I set up a separate savings account labeled “taxes”, where I set aside 30% of each month’s earnings, to be paid out each quarter.

This not only makes it easier to pay taxes once the time comes, but helps, your often irregular budget, prepare for the QET’s that need to be paid each quarter.

  • Ordinary Income Versus Capital Gains

Income earned from a blog or website is often confused as investment income or even passive income. However, as any blogger will tell you, it’s far from a passive source of income, as we put in enormous amounts of time and energy into making it successful.

It’s also not considered investment income — which is generated from buying and selling other investments or assets, and is taxed in a different way than ordinary income.

There are many different types of investments that produce investment income, like stock market investing, savings accounts, and purchasing other tangible assets like art or collectibles. None of which can be used to categorize income from monetizing your blog.

However, you can get a bit of a tax break if prove that your blog is a business asset. Then it could be classified as a capital gain, versus just ordinary income.

On the other hand, if you’re in the business of buying, restoring and flipping websites, then the profits are considered ordinary income. It’s really all about intent, how long you’ve owned the website and the amount of investment you’ve poured into it that determines what kind of taxes you’ll pay once it’s sold.

Classifying Blogging Income

Classifying your blogging income correctly and keeping good records is vital for any solopreneur. Until the IRS and accounting methods catch up to the ever-changing pace of the online world, it’s your job to educate yourself on the right methods for organizing your business finances.

We all aim to pay our fair share of taxes (and no more) while making a decent income for ourselves and our families. The good news however, is that this industry is still relatively new, which means we can forge our own financial path and make our own rules — within reason of course!

With all the time, effort and money you put into your blog, you need to understand these financial terms, so you can make your business a success and pay the least amount of taxes.

Do you treat your blog like a business? How do you handle the financial part of it?

How Does Blogging Help You Boost Traffic and Generate Leads? [Infographic]

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Whether your company blogs or not, it’s important to not disregard its significance. Blogging has three proven ways to help boost your brand and market your business. They are proven to generate traffic, leads and help spearhead your social media marketing efforts. Blogging takes effort, but as this infographic shows, time spent implementing a blog strategy can pay dividends. They key is to remain consistent and blog often!

Blogging-IG-Blogworld

What Happens to Your Traffic when You Stop Writing at Your Blog?

Author:

I taught a Marketing with Social Media MBA course at a fully accredited university in Silicon Valley earlier this year. The class ran from Feb 9 – April 28. There were 73 students enrolled. Just over 50 survived to the end.

During the last day of class I asked my students, “How many of you have been angry at me some time during the past 11 weeks?”

They all raised their hands. Some raised both hands and waved them violently. Thank goodness there were no single digit waves … I think. But it was clear the students had had enough of blogging no matter what I called it – marketing with social media, content marketing, inbound marketing, whatever. They were done.

Indeed I was curious to know what would happen to the traffic to their sites when they stopped writing.

Now I know.

Take a look.

Aggregate After

This screen shot reflects the aggregate traffic to all the students’ sites.

It is clearly visible that the traffic is increasing overall.

Increasing?! When most of them had stopped writing?! And all of them are writing less!

Indeed. The traffic continues to grow.

And be sure to take note where the traffic is coming from. Organic traffic is far outperforming the biggest social network on the planet.

Case Study – Info-Nepal

A look at one of the student’s stats is particularly enlightening. Her site is dedicated to Nepal. It would be a great complement to a travel agent site dedicated to Nepal as a destination.

Not a couple of days AFTER the class was finished, look what happened.

After class

I wrote to her, “Very sudden and very nice jump in your traffic! What’s going on?”

Her reply:

“Yeah it all started about 3 weeks ago. All of a sudden I am getting a lot of traffic. It increased from 40-50 per day to almost 300 per day. I am excited. I need to write more frequently. Thanks for keeping and eye on it.

In other words, she did nothing special. Just plugging away, and even writing less than during the class.
We can see where her traffic is coming from.

Lesson Learned

The crystal clear message: Creating good content results in good residual traffic, sometimes known as the long tail.
When traffic is purchased (think adwords) or pushed via social networks and social bookmarking sites (think referral traffic from other sites) traffic will come as long as it is pushed, driven. But when the buying and pushing stops, so does the traffic.  Not so with good content that is on topic and created at the home site. It’s the content that keeps on giving, um, pulling.
Content marketing is inbound marketing. And it can’t be beat long term.
What is your experience with creating content compared to buying traffic by hook or by crook? Got case study? Wanna share? Feel free to read the students’ firsthand experiences at BillBelew.com. And by all means, reach out to me if I can help you see similar results at your site(s). See you in the comments.

The Mobile Majority Wants Your Small Business

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mobile small business Remember when mobile phones used to be about..making a call? Neither do I. The explosive growth of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices over the past few years has drastically and permanently changed the way we socialize, work, and do business. The net-net? It’s imperative to travel with your customers and prospects wherever they go.

In fact, a recent report revealed that 28% of smartphone users and 55% of tablet users shop online: That means they are searching, evaluating, or making purchases—possibly all three in one fell swoop. That’s why small businesses—whether  a consultant, online site, or retail—are now expected to serve up discoverable, easy to navigate, and actionable content on mobile devices. If not, there is a gaping hole of awareness, customer and  prospect interaction, and the opportunity for your competition to grab business.

Consider these recent mobile device statistics:

Convinced?

Even though you know it’s the “right” move for your business, thinking about the effort required can be overwhelming, or perhaps you don’t even know where to start. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to position your business in the mobile marketing game without reshuffling your plans, allocating a huge budget, or calling yourself a tech-genius.

Depending on whether you have a store-front, are a consultant, ecommerce site, or other business model, you will have one or more content areas to mobile-ize. Additional factors to consider will be your overall marketing goals, tools you use to promote your business, and how often you communicate with your customers and prospects.

Let’s start making your content mobilicious:

  • Entice with easy-to-read mail: The great thing about optimizing email for mobile devices is that you’ll get a two-for-one: Not only will your email be easier to read, visually pleasing, and clear on what action to take, it will result in a better promotion on any size screen. Here are some rules of thumb:
    • Keep the text short and punchy: Edit. Edit. Edit. What email wouldn’t benefit from that?
    • Use time and space wisely with your Call-to-Action (CTA): Think discounts, free offers, and new services you want to promote.
    • Have few images but make them clickable: Streamlined but effective graphics can pull double duty by being touch-friendly to navigate and also prompting action, such as pointing to social media icons, or click to buy, to name a few.
    • Let the fingers do the walking: With virtually all smartphones using a touchscreen these days, make sure your email is “finger-friendly” to open, navigate, and zoom around the content.
    • Consider getting help: If email marketing is a big part of your business, think about hiring a vendor to do the heavy lifting for you, such as Movable Ink or BrightWave Marketing.

So is your small business ready to join the mobile majority? Yes, it will require some initial work, but taking these steps today will put you front and center with your customers and prospects wherever they are, now and in the future.

Once you get on the mobile marketing train, I recommend that you stay up to speed on the trends: Because it’s a growing and ever-changing technology, being ahead of the curve will help improve your chances for mobile marketing success. Check out resources on all aspects of mobile marketing. There are tons more online.

What’s next? Start thinking about blinging out your presence with apps, QR codes, video, texting, advertising, search widgets, which will be covered in my article next month.

Image credit: Bigstock

How Often Should I Blog?

Author:
Find your blogging pace

Find your blogging pace

One question I get asked a LOT is, “How much do I need to write at my blog?”

The question needs clarification.

How much does a blogger need to write to do what? Have an online platform? Get readers? Make money? Make money from traffic alone? Make money by offering display or affiliate ads? Make money by offering a service? Make money by some combination of all of these?

The answer to how much a blogger should write at their blog will differ depending on why the blogger writes? Depending on what the blogger’s end game is.

That being said, there is one thing that is absolutely foundational to making money with your blog. You have to have traffic = eyeballs of people specifically interested in the content at your site.

The traffic can be minimal, as in only those people you tell to go there. The traffic can com via referral, as in those people who are told to go there by hook or by crook. Think through social networking. The traffic can come via search = somebody dropped something in a search engine box and found you. The traffic can come through some combination of these methods.

In my Marketing with Social Media MBA course, I am teaching my students how to get people to find them via search engines.

Believing that is cheaper = a better of use time spent, for people to find me than it is for me to find them, I am teaching my students that they need to write in such a way that they become visible to the search engines without compromising the quality of their content.

The question again, “How much does a blogger need to write at their blog to get found by real people via search engines?”

Here are the weekly guidelines I am giving my students:

1.  Each student must write a minimum of 600-750 words daily. Those words can be in the form of 3 posts that are 200-250 words long, one post that is 600-750 words long or a 200-250 word post and a 400-500 word post.

2. Each student must guest blog (400+ words) at my site on a subject that I give them. And in this guest blog, they link back to their own sites. After guest blogging at my site, as one of their daily posts they must write about their experience of guest blogging at my site and link to it.

3. Each student must guest blog at a classmate’s site. They are free to pursue which site they will guest post at and the rules are the same. They will write 400+ words about something relevant to their classmate’s site, providing a link back to their own web site. And as one of their daily posts they must write about their experience of guest posting with a link.

4. Finally, each student is required to write an anchor/pillar/evergreen post at their home site. (400+ words) that they would be particularly happy with AND they are asked to share it with their social network IF they have one.

There are 73 students enrolled in the class. More than 50 of them are very active. A few of them are wasting their money and my time. I can’t help that latter group.

So, how is this working?

I will delve into the analytics as the weeks progress. But for now, the interested reader can see how the top 10 sites are performing after weeks one, two and three.

That question one more time: “How much do I need to write at my blog?”

My answer: “How much traffic do you want at your blog? Keep writing until that many people show up.”

The above guidelines will get you started.

The Unintentional Thought Leader: Seven Steps For Small Business Blogging

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When I launched Marketing Sparks three years ago, “thought leadership” was not a goal. Discuss issues I care about? Yes. Stoke my desire to write? Absolutely. Maybe even attract new business as a bonus? Of course.

Over time, though, I discovered that a certain style of writing could help position my small business blog as an authority and go-to expert. That said, I use the term “thought leadership” hesitantly and humbly—it tends to sound lofty—and there are no hard and fast rules defining it. When it comes to blogging, my definition revolves around having expertise on a topic, shedding light on issues, offering a point-of-view, and sharing innovative thinking…and doing this is easier than you might think.

Here are seven steps you can take to start your own thought leadership blog or tweak your current one to elevate your content from standard fare to superior must-read.

1. Write About Your Passion

It starts with a cliché we’ve all heard: “Write from the heart.” Nothing could be more true in a thought leadership blog. That doesn’t mean pontificating or talking down to your audience, it means sharing your interest and expertise and giving that information to your audience freely. In the process, your readers will feel smarter too. Spreading insights through a blog that excites and energizes you—the kind you can’t wait to share with the online world—is contagious, and your readers will ultimately share with their own networks.

2. Choose Your Audience and They Will Choose You

As Daniel Rasmus said, “Go vertical or go home.” Pick an area to cover and stick with it. Let’s face it, we can’t all be experts on everything, and frankly, generic information is pretty useless. Think of it as a marketing campaign: Who is your target audience? Who will care about your knowledge base? What can you offer them that they can’t get elsewhere? Once you start adding value to your audience’s professional or personal life, you will slowly be viewed as a trusted source and develop a loyal following.

3. Get A Hub With Spokes

Now that you found your audience, it’s time to stimulate, educate, and even entertain them with your expertise. The key is to write on a variety of topics from your knowledge base and cast the widest net possible. When I take on my “hub” of marketing, there are a lot of “spokes” in that wheel: I write about branding, advertising, social media, events, technology—the list goes on. I also sprinkle in a diverse range of blog styles so that unpredictability is the only thing my audience can count on. That means:

  • Opinion
  • Interviews
  • Breaking news
  • Guest blogs
  • Follow-up pieces
  • Evergreen/timeless topics (my PowerPoint alternatives blog post from two years ago still garners steady hits)

Click to tweet this quote!

4. Circle-Slash Vanilla Views 

Rehashing a trending hot topic—say, Apple’s court battle with Samsung—is more about content aggregation than delivering any meaningful insight to your readers. You might get a lot of Google hits, but are not illuminating anything new. Blogging as an authority means taking a stand and doing it authentically. One of the keys is not just to understand a topic fully, but to offer readers an alternative point of view or additional insight. In other words, content that makes your blog worth reading and stand out from the crowd. As Jessica Northey said at this year’s NMX in the  panel session How To Build Your Blog Community: Three Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets, “Tell the truth, make it matter, and never be boring.” Amen to that.

5. Do Your Homework

Having earned a living as a reporter early in my career, I’ve always had a nose for news, curiosity, and a desire to ask questions. And when my reputation is at stake, I take that very seriously—and your readers will too. They count on you to do the background and research for them. Make sure you are using the best and most current information before you hit “publish.” If an important data point is missing or there is sloppy attribution, your credibility suffers. Conversely, if you get corrections from readers, cop to it, update your blog, and even thank the person for pointing it out. We’re all mere mortals…even those gunnin’ to be a thought leader.

6. There is No “Self” In Promotion

Ever heard the old saying, “Let someone else say how great you are”? Don’t promote your business or anything that smacks of it in your blog. Readers will sniff it out and run the other way. With so many choices on the Internet to spend their precious time, readers come for new ideas and practices, not thinly-veiled or overt pitches.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t market the heck out of your blog on a regular basis: Promote it to your personal and business network, leverage your social media channels by sharing and starting conversations, and of course reciprocate with other bloggers in your field. Don’t forget to mention your blog to clients and prospects when a related topic comes up. And, yes, in case you were wondering, I have gained new clients from my blog posts. Not only do prospects get a shortcut to your knowledge and skill set, it builds instant confidence in you before you’re even hired.

7. Leadership Versus Readership

There are so many blog styles: newsy updates, opinion blogs, branded blogs, affiliate marketing blogs, mommy blogs, and on and on. Choosing to do a thought leadership blog is a quieter and narrower path—dare I say “quality over quantity.” It takes time to grow your audience and build credibility, so be patient.

For most small business owners, blogging is a “sideline” to the busy life of running a company and does not pay the bills. Yet if you stay the course on the slow but sure path, you will be rewarded handsomely in personal gratification, respect, and potentially new work.

How could your blog be changed by adding a thought leader slant? What benefits would you gain from doing so?

Follow 50+ MBA Level Case Studies in Content and Inbound Marketing

Author:

I, Bill Belew, wondered to myself, what if I could get a bunch of, say 50+ MBA-level students together in a classroom setting and have them take content and inbound marketing serious? Could I learn something? What would I learn?

More prone to acting than just sitting around and thinking about things, I approached a university in the Bay Area of Silicon Valley about offering a course on content and inbound marketing in their MBA program. They hopped right on it and a class called – Marketing with Social Media – was born.

On the first day of class 65, count ‘em, of  74 enrolled students showed up. The other nine students missed class for one reason or the other and are playing catch up.

There were some 16 hours of instructions over two days on the first of three weekends for a full 48-hour course.

The university allows that students be given two hours of outside-the-classroom, I think that’s called homework, for every one hour in the class room

Think big smile! I gave my students 96 hours of work EACH to do on their web sites.

Calculator says – 96 hours x 74 students = 7,200 hours of dedicated effort to creating good, meaningful, original content on brand spanking new web sites.

Give or take a few dropped students and some overachievers and I am reasonably expecting at least some 5,000-6000+ hours of, ahem, quality (more on the challenges in future articles) work to be done in a variety of niches on different blogs by business-minded content creators who have a vested interest in their sites. Vested interest = they will fail the class if they don’t do what I require or they really want to launch a business idea that they have been mulling over and they are using the class to do that.

15 questions I want answered:

  1. Are short articles better than longer ones? And for whom or for what?
  2. How long should articles be?
  3. Is it better to post once a day, multiple times a day, weekly?
  4. What about linking internally to one’s own site?
  5. What about linking externally to other quality sites?
  6. What’s a good reasonable strategy for acquiring back links from other sites?
  7. Can my students get mojo if they link to each other and there is a relevance to the sites that are linked together?
  8. What about images? Captions? Descriptions?
  9. Do some niches perform better than others when starting out? When already established?
  10. What about traffic from the other social networks?
  11.  Inbound traffic – is it better coming from search, referrals, direct, paid or the social networks?
  12.  What are some of the challenges, lessons learned when going from zero to 65 people online working on creating quality content for marketing purposes?
  13.  Is content marketing a good strategy to generate revenue from impressions, for selling affiliate products, for offering services, for local, national or global traffic?
  14.  Is getting a group like this together to create a network even copacetic?
  15. And what about plugins? Are some better than others? Are there some that are more important than others? Are there some that are essential?

I expect to KNOW as oppose to guess at the answers to many of these questions above as well as to questions I haven’t even thought to ask yet, which is why I’ll end this article with some questions for the reader.

5 questions I want to ask you:

  1. What if you were me?
  2. What would you do with this class?
  3. Where would you start?
  4. What would you teach?
  5. What kinds of requirements would you make of them?

Please meet me in the comments and let me know your answers.

Consider following this series as I provide insights, lessons learned, victories and failures (if you promise not to judge) from the case studies generated in and out of this class.

3 Steps for those who want in on the content marketing discussion:

Step 1 -Subscribe to this NMX blog to get updates when they come out here.

and/or

Step 2 – Subscribe to the Bill Belew.com/blog to get more immediate updates from me at my home site.

Step 3 – Read the inbound and content marketing students experiences first hand. The students are giving weekly updates in the Guest Writer category. Oftentimes, you might read about their experiences BEFORE I do. That’s right. My editors might push them through before I see them.

PLEASE: If my students blast me in one of their posts before I see it, let me know. 8-)

Why Have a Blog If You Don’t Use It?

Author:

You’ve seen those frightful business websites before, hopefully not including your own.

You land on the site and it provides you with detailed information on the respective company. Once you navigate a little more, it comes to your knowledge that the company’s blog is looking like a lost child. One of the first thoughts likely to come to your mind is what exactly were these people thinking?

So, basically what you have here is neglect at its worst, neglect that could end up costing this particular company more business.

Whether your company is unveiling new products and services for your customers, or expanding its operation locally or nationally, the company blog is a terrific resource to announce such moves. Take those blog posts and promote them on social media, you get even more exposure.

So, what to do if your company blog efforts are clinging to life support?

Some of the actions you should deploy immediately include:

Assess the situation

Before you set into panic mode, think about how you got in this position in the first place. Was it because you just did not have the time and/or resources to update the blog? Did you feel your blog efforts were not worth the time? Lastly, have you tried blogging before, but met with little or no success? Come to grips with why you’re in this place to begin with, then draw up a plan to reverse course.

Plan a course

If you are running your own small business, there is a good chance you have limited resources with which to tend to everyday responsibilities. In that case, either put a qualified individual on your team (where applicable) in charge of blogging or outsource the needs to a company that does such work on a daily basis. If you do keep it in-house, make sure the person in charge of blogging keeps the blog relevant, not to mention updated on a daily basis. Along with the importance of getting your message out there, you want to make sure you are getting some love back from the search engines. When you’re blogging infrequently and not staying on message, you lose standing with Google, not something you want to do.

Blog with a purpose

Who are you trying to kid? One of the reasons for blogging is to gain traction with Google and other search engine venues. If you are blogging infrequently not only on your own site, but never reaching out to see if you can guest blog on other relevant sites, you lose twice. One of the great things with blogging on other sites is that you can put a keyword term or two (depending on publisher guidelines) in the post, thereby directing traffic back to your site (offer the same option to relevant blogs). If for no other reason, use that as motivation to get people back to your site, allowing them to see the products and services you offer.

Promote products and services

Finally, do you have a new product or service offering you want the world to know about? Using your company blog to promote it makes sense, plus opens you up to consumers who may not have been aware of you as recently as yesterday. Whether you have started a rewards program, now accept mobile payments or will be discounting certain merchandise, your blog can carry the news for you. And remember, you need to promote the blog itself on your social media channels, giving you more opportunities to land business.

While your company blog may not get your full attention, it should be getting more than you’ve likely been giving it in the past.

Photo Credit: Bigstock

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