What I Learned About Writing & Sharing Content In 2012 (Part 1)

I’m going to take some time to share with you what I’ve learned about writing and sharing content this year.

When a year winds down, I like to take a look at what the big takeaway or area of growth was for entrepreneurs and marketers. This year I think it’s pretty clear that small business owners have realized not only the importance but the necessity of using content to market their businesses in a way that engages people and inspires them to share it.

The big kahunas have figured this out and have really stepped up their games this year. For instance, let’s take a look at Coke’s home page. Coke makes several attempts to engage visitors with content. They want you to read their @DocPemberton tweets over on Twitter, watch fun YouTube videos of drinking/sharing Coke, or read some of their updates over on Facebook where they share lots of interesting Coke related photos and fun facts.

painless content marketing coke

What I Learned About Keyword Research In 2012

The first element of making sure that your ideal clients and customers read your content is to make sure that you speak their language using terms that they search for on the web. The only way to make sure that you get this right is to do the research. There’s no way around this. If you don’t do this, you will be shooting in the dark and next thing you know a year has gone nothing has changed in your business.

Before Google Panda and Penguin, it use to be that you could create a piece of content, optimize it for the web, and if you followed a few basic SEO principles  Google would rank you highly and send you free traffic. This year some of that changed and it affected many, many sites across the web.

One of the huge things that I learned this year behind this is that it’s much more important to create a website and its content around one central theme versus spending too much time focusing on optimizing each individual piece of content. What I mean by this is that you have to get even more niche focused than before so that search engines as well as potential customers and clients recognize you as the authority in ONE specific topic that you write about. This is going to make it much easier to do your keyword research going forward.

FIRST – For example if you write about blogging, you need to get really specific about what aspect of blogging you focus on such as: making money with a blog, building a blog from scratch, WordPress blogging, Blogger blogging, etc. Get really specific and create content around only one of those topics.

SECOND – Build a list of 5 to 10 keywords around that topic only. This will take you literally about fifteen minutes if you use a robust keyword research tool (like my favs Market Samurai or SEMRush) or a bit longer if you do it old school using Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool.

THIRD – Use these keywords and related keywords (you can find related keywords when you do your search using any keyword tool) in your titles, first paragraphs, and sprinkled naturally throughout your articles.

FOURTH – Also use the keywords as anchor text when backlinking to your site BUT be sure not to use exact matches all of the time. Enclose some of your keyword phrases with other words. For example, if your keyword is “blogging basics” be sure to use longer and varied anchor text such as “blogging basics for coaches” or “easy blogging basics”. The search engines frown upon a lot of exact term anchor text, which is why a lot of sites lost many of their rankings when the Panda, Penguin and Exact Domain Match updates hit.

FIFTH – Don’t over think your keyword research. Ultimately you need to focus on creating content that your readers will read and share!

Here are a few additional articles I wrote in 2012 that discuss keyword research:

Five Reasons Why I Won’t Read Your Blog
http://lisaangelettieblog.com/5-reasons-why-i-wont-read-blog/

How My Blog Traffic Increased By 33%
http://lisaangelettieblog.com/how-my-blog-traffic-increased-by-33-percent/

My Keyword Research SEMRush Review & Tutorial
http://lisaangelettieblog.com/keyword-research-semrush-review-tutorial/

Why Do So Many Entrepreneurs Fail At Content Marketing & Article Marketing?

This is a frequently asked question from members of my community that I don’t think I’ve answered before on this site because it is such a “loaded” question. Yet I think that I’ve now worked with enough entrepreneurs and small business owners that I can answer this pretty confidently. So here it is…

Here are my top 5 reasons why so many entrepreneurs have trouble seeing results from their article & content marketing and what they (you too!) can do about it:

trouble with article marketing#1 – Analysis Paralysis

Many entrepreneurs do not succeed with article and content marketing because they get stuck on what to write about. If you aren’t creating content on a consistent basis, you will not see results — plain and simple. It should not take you 3 weeks to write a blog post and if it is taking you that long — then you need to see me! You are over thinking this whole content thing.

Here’s the key for consistent content creation: solve a problem! Quickly write out a list of 10, 25 or more of the problems your clients/customers typically face. Now write an article that solves that problem. Ta-da the end!

#2 – Unrealistic Expectations

I am notorious for “splashing cold water” on my clients by telling them to stop believing all this crap that many marketers are trying to sell. You cannot dominate your niche with content in a week or even a month. It takes consistency for a long period of time, but the payoff is totally worth it. Free traffic. More visibility. More influence. More authority.

#3 – No System In Place

Many fledgling article marketers typically wake up and decide at some point to write an article or shoot a video during their day, then they do not what to do with it OR they don’t create another one until the “mood” strikes. Things like this happen because entrepreneurs don’t have a system or a blueprint for what to write, when to write, where to publish, etc. in place. I use the Articology blueprint for article marketing in my business and the businesses of my clients. It really makes things a lot simpler when all the guessing has been taken out of the equation.

#4 – Not Using Enough Optimization

Okay, I’m not trying to frighten you with SEO talk but I’ve got to be honest here. One of the major ways that new traffic will find you is if they find your content through a typical organic search in Google, Yahoo or Bing. You cannot create an article or video with a “clever” title and think it will be found by people searching for information on the web. People don’t search for answers using clever words or analogies. They use everyday 5th grade language. Ex: “How do you fry chicken?” or “How can I lose weight?”

So it’s extremely important that you optimize your content for the search engines, otherwise known as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I have tons of articles on SEO on this site, but if you need a tip right now: you should be writing titles for your content that contain keyword phrases that your clients/customers are searching for.

#5 – You’re Not Promoting Your Articles

I talk about article promotion a lot in Articology because it’s something not a lot of marketers or strategists are showing you. It’s not enough to publish an article and wait for the traffic to follow. You have to publish then promote that article. Tell people that it’s out there. Shout it out! Guide them with a link.

Let people know what problem you are solving for them today and where they can find the answer and they will RUN to your content, like it, tweet it, share it, etc.

Conclusion

Content marketing and article marketing work. In fact, all the six or seven figure entrepreneurs I know online ALL use content marketing in their businesses. Avoid these 5 stumbling blocks and you’re already way ahead of the game!

Five Steps To Get You Out Of Business Overwhelm

Are You Running Your Business Like a Deer in the Headlights?
Five Steps to Get You Out of the Glare and Into the Driver’s Seat

Overwhelm. No end in sight. What’s next? Not another!

Ring any bells? As entrepreneurs, we’re unfortunately familiar with the feeling that there are a zillion things demanding our attention, even though we only have time for a fraction of them. New opportunities, programs, tools, apps, and just plain interesting ideas bombard us daily; each is a bright shiny object just waiting to pull our attention away from the important work that really deserves our attention.

What to do?

The number of potential distractions will do nothing but rise dramatically over time, so it’s up to you to figure how to stay aware of potential new business-building tools without SQUIRREL!!!!  falling prey to every new thing that comes along. Here are tools that can help you in this sometimes aggravating, always important endeavor.

1. Develop clear decision-making criteria.  It’s easy to jump on the latest bandwagon—and there are a LOT of tempting wagons out there. You can’t afford to dabble in all of them; you need to choose those that will best serve your objectives and then dive deep into those key activities.

What criteria do you use to decide whether or not to take on a new activity or project?  While your business is unique, any of the following will give you a good starting point for creating your own decison-making touchstone:

– Will this directly contribute to my earning more money?
– Can I expect a fairly quick positive ROI from this?
– Does my research indicate that this activity makes sense for me?
– Is this task truly important, or is it just urgent? In other words, does doing it (or failing to do it) have significant long-term consequences for my business, or am I just feeling big time pressure to get it done? Sometimes a task will be both important and urgent, but all too often, important tasks don’t come with deadlines; that’s why they’re so easy to postpone.
– Can I clearly identify how this particular activity will move me toward my stated business objectives?

2.    Chunk it down. One of the easiest ways to feel overwhelmed is to look at a big task in all its enormous scariness. Fortunately, one of the easiest ways to get out of overwhelm is to chunk it down, or break the task into very small action steps, each of which feels much more do-able. This is one of the things I do for my clients that generates the biggest sighs of relief.

As an example, putting “revamp my website” on your To Do list is a sure way of making you want to hide in a corner. You’re much more likely to succeed in this goal if you create small action steps, such as: Review current side for good copy; do keyword research for new site; interview web designers; upgrade website platform if necessary. Notice that any one of these small steps can be further broken down. The goal is to give yourself such a clearly defined, manageable task that you know exactly what needs doing and are  confident about moving forward on it.

3.    Be productive in 15-minute increments. I can’t overemphasize how valuable I’ve found this one technique. I’ve found that, no matter how uncomfortable or tedious a task, I can handle it for just 15 minutes. (I recommend setting a timer for yourself. I happen to use a virtual one I found at www.online-stopwatch.com, but a kitchen timer works great, too.) The excellent news is that, once the timer goes off, I’ve got two equally good options: (1) celebrate having made progress on the task, or (2) continue working on it if I feel like I’m in the groove.

In a related vein, you might create a list of activities you can do “when I’ve only got a few minutes free.” If you’ve finished one project and don’t want to start another because you need to leave for a client meeting, or if your client shows up to the restaurant late, or you get stuck waiting in line, you can chip away at this To Do list. You’ll be  especially productive if you use these little chunks of time for activities that can normally turn into long, dark rabbit holes (reading e-mails or working on Facebook both spring to mind).

4.    Commit to being a groupie. Not that kind! Commit to organizing your day so that you group like activities together. There’s almost nothing that will fracture your focus and destroy your productivity more than flitting from task to another.  Rather than interrupt your work on a client proposal to answer the seductive ping of an incoming e-mail, then leave that to add something to your next blog post, group these activities. Maybe you can designate a certain time of day (using our friend Mr. Timer, perhaps) to writing, which could include proposals, blog posts, content for teleseminars, and so forth. Another chunk of the day could be devoted to creating your subject-matter-expert presence online. What makes sense for you? (See #1.)

5.    Regularly reassess your activities and their priorities. Your business is not static, and neither are the demands on your time. I recommend to my clients that they set aside an entire day every month to get out of their usual environment and spend some time in reflection and evaluation of what they’re doing to grow their business.

I’m guessing nearly everyone has heard of the classic approach of identifying A-, B-, and C-level priorities; it feels kind of time-worn. The fact is, though, that it’s a classic for a reason. When you’re faced with a mile-long To Do list, are you able to confidently say that the only things on it are your A-level priorities? If not, it’s time for a do-over.

One of the easiest ways I move my clients out of overwhelm is to gather all their great ideas in one place. (This eliminates the temptation to jump on a bright shiny object now “so I don’t forget it.”  Once the ideas have been corralled, it’s easier to do a side-by-side comparison of proposed activities so that you can assess which truly are worth your time and energy. Those that are mission critical get on the A list; those that are merely important go on the B list; the nice ideas get relegated to the C list; then the tempting B and C lists get put away. Then the A list gets re-evaluated so that the client is crystal clear on what THE most important activity is for him/her to do today.

If it’s time to get yourself out of the headlights of overwhelm, apply one or more of these tools to your day and enjoy the experience of feeling in control.

Kathleen Watson is an implementation specialist who shows her clients how to move from big ideas to big actions to big results. You can get a free copy of her 15-page workbook, the Take Action Now System™, by going to www.SteppingIntoBig.com.

Free Screen Sharing Sites That Actually Work!

When I work with clients, some of our sessions are a lot more instructive when I can show them exactly what I’m trying to teach, and I can do this pretty effectively with screen sharing. This is also great when a client is “stuck” and it’s just easier to show them rather than talk them through the “fix”.

Screen Sharing On A Mac

Now in the past I only did this with clients who were on a Mac and iChat because it was all I knew how to do and it was easy. (Everything is easy on a Mac!) Of course as my practice grows, I have to accommodate everyone and soon discovered screen sharing sites for use with my PC clients (which is most of you!). Unfortunately many of the major screen sharing sites like GoToMeeting or Webex cost money, and before I pay a premium, I always try a to find a zero cost resource first. And you won’t be disappointed with these zero cost screen sharing resources, because they deliver. Click on the pics to go to each site and start sharing…

#1 – AnyMeeting

I like to use AnyMeeting for small webinars and screen sharing with private clients or a small group of clients. This is my favorite free screen sharing resource so far. You can create your event, send an email with event details to participants, and hold your event without any glitches. No software downloads are necessary which is nice too.

anymeeting screen sharing

#2 – Skype

I selected Skype as the second screen sharing site because a LOT of people already have Skype. So you are familiar with the software and comfortable with it. It’s pretty easy to navigate and the only limitations may be that you can only share with one person for free and that there is obviously the Skype software to download. You are always taking a chance with software downloads, that your clients do not have the software and have no interesting in downloading it just for your screen sharing session.

Skype screen sharing

#3 – Join Me

I’m going to be honest and admit that I didn’t really “get” Join.Me at first. It’s got this super cool, simple, and clean home page, but I wasn’t sure what to do. So the first thing you should do if you are holding the screen sharing session (which most of you are) as the coach or consultant is to download the software. Another download but it’s super simple for you and the client to use. With the free version you’ll get internet calling, screen sharing, share control, chat, send files.

join me screen sharing

#4 – LiveLOOK

Here’s another great screen sharing choice if you don’t want to download any software. The way it works is that you will give your guest a name and access code to ssee the screen that you are sharing with them. Works with Mac, Linux, and Windows.

LiveLOOK screen sharing

#5 – ShowMyPc

Don’t let the title of this site throw you off Mac users, this screen sharing tool works for Windows, Mac and Linux. Many clients use this site for the remote pc capability as well as screen sharing. Cool for techies.

showmypc screen sharing

*Just A Note

DimDim used to be a screen sharing tool but was recently acquired by Salesforce and only current members can use the screen sharing and meeting tools. It is not open to new users.

dimdim screen sharing

7 Updates For Your Virtual Assistant To Handle

I was in the middle of delegating these 7 tasks to my wonderful virtual assistant (Pam) so I thought I’d jot them down for you to delegate as well:

1. Change your blog footer copyright to 2012.

2. Change your newsletter copyright to 2012.

3. Update any terms of use, disclaimers, etc. that may contain a 2011 date.

4. Check Google’s webmaster tools to see if your sites have any dead links a.k.a. 404 errors (your sites have to be set up in webmaster tools first)

5. Check stats to see what social media site is bringing you the most traffic and spend a little more energy over there.

6. Get organized! Work with your VA to schedule your calendar for the year (product launches, program launches, product and program marketing, vacations, kids days off of school, etc.)

7. Freshen Up! Add those buttons, banners and other items to your home page you’ve been wanting to forever but haven’t. Relinquish control and allow your VA to do the heavy lifting:)

 

Are You Struggling With Implementing What You Learn?

I have a question for you this week…are you struggling with implementing what you learn when it comes to marketing your business?

implementation frustrationConsider all the articles you’ve read, videos you’ve watched, audios you’ve listened to, information products you’ve invested in, teleseminars or telecourses you’ve signed up for. How many pieces of content in your niche do you think you’ve consumed? 100? 1000? More?

Now think about the time you’ve invested reading, listening or watching all of these bits of information. Do you think  you’ve spent a week, a month, a year or even longer of your time consuming all of this information?

Finally, consider the cost of consuming this content. How much money do you think you’ve currently invested in ebooks, information products, telesminars, workshops, etc. $100? $1000? $5000? What about intrinsic value. What about the time away from actually doing things in your business, with your family, for yourself at the expense of reading one more book or listening to another two hour teleseminar.

Now don’t misunderstand me here. Consuming content that can directly educate you about what’s going on in your niche or how to grow and expand your business is very important. Crucial even. But the key element that many entrepreneurs, especially solo professionals, tend to make when consuming information is actually implementing the strategies after they’re finished.

Hey, we’ve all done it. I did it a lot in my early years online. Mainly because I was totally overwhelmed with all of the information that I was consuming on building my business and improving my marketing. It was a lot! And there were many strategies. Lots of experts. And much of it was conflicting. I was truly swimming in a pool of quicksand and I can safely say that I know there are a lot more entrepreneurs who are currently in the spot that I was in back then. Is it you?

Here are some of my tips to get out of the sinkhole and back on land where it’s safe!

Pick One Marketing Strategy That Resonates With You And Do Only That (for now:)

The first thing I find when I work with clients is that they are trying to implement every marketing strategy that they’ve learned all at once. Needless to say that scattered implementation process does not produce results. Instead you need to focus on one strategy at a time and when you’ve mastered that, move on to the next. For me that first strategy was article marketing. For you it may be another content marketing strategy, such as video articles or guest posting.

Blow Up That To Do List!

Most people who are struggling with implementation are overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that they have on their to-do lists. I’m laughing as I write this because this was me FOR SURE. I have an old list that had like 123 things on it. The problem with this is that you only complete #1 and maybe #2 but you look at your big ole’ list and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. So you don’t do anything the next day because you are all bummed out. Ick!

Take that list and blow it up! Pick out the top 10 things off of the list that are easiest for you to do and will make the most impact on your business. Now tomorrow you will tackle the first item on that list. You may have to chunk that item down into mini steps to get it done. Check off each step as it is completed. So your list may look like Item #1 and then a,b,c, under that item. When checked off it feels as if you’ve gotten a lot accomplished that day (and you have!) and you’re in a better place mentally to handle the next thing on the list.

Get Yourself Some REAL Accountability

This is probably the most effective strategy I used to kick my butt into gear. It’s simple. Check around with the leaders in your niche, and I guarantee you that they all have a mentor and/or a coach. The reasons to hire someone to help guide you are endless, but one of the major reasons that it’s always better to have a coach in your life is the accountability factor.

The reason why is that the person you bought that information product from really wants you to implement their strategies and see results but they’re not going to email you or call you to make sure that you did. Once the transaction is made — that’s it. But when you invest in a coach, you’re investing in someone’s expertise and their ability to keep you on task.

My business completely changed once I did this. Many of you know that I often talk about my mentors. They were very important to me and still are. I currently have 3 coaches and have seen the results in my income literally triple because of them; and I’m proud to say that I too hold all of my wonderful clients extremely accountable for moving forward in their businesses:) Do you hear me guys?

Where Do I Start With Marketing My Business?

Q: Where Do I Start With Marketing My Business

Dear Lisa,
There is so much information out there on starting a business that I don’t know where to begin. I know you write all about content but don’t I need to start somewhere further back before I start writing? I mean where to I start when it comes to marketing my business?
Pricilla Reyes
Orlando, Florida

Dear Pricilla,
The very first thing you should be crystal clear about is what you are in the business of doing. What do you do? Who do you serve? What transformation do you provide them? After that — it’s all about content. Content is the lifeblood of the web. It loves to get more and it loves to give us more. So once you’ve decided on what you are in business for and who you serve, it’s now time to create marketable content. Uh – right away!
Thanks For Writing!

Recognizing When Done Is Good Enough

Recognizing When Done Is Good Enough

I love this excerpt from Melinda Emerson’s (#smallbizlady) recent article Are You Ready To Finish The Year With A Bang?. In it she discusses many things that were spot on when it comes to getting the most bang out of your business over these last few months of the year. But it’s this quote that really resonated with me because I find myself working through this issue with 99% of my clients. Maybe you too? :)

Melinda Emerson

Done is Good Enough. Your small business brand will evolve over time. Don’t be one of these people who have not released your new website or newsletter because you are still messing with your logo or layout.  No one cares about your logo but you, and you can always revise it later.  Just get it out there.  Get feedback, and adjust your branded as needed.  You are supposed to cringe at the original art work years later.

If I had waited until things were perfect to start my first business (Girlshrink), I wouldn’t have been totally fulfilled as a woman and mother, because I would have never gotten the website off the ground. Back then I didn’t even know what I wanted or needed to make the site “perfect”. In fact, not to long ago I stumbled across some “hater” who was talking about my advice column. He said it was on the ugliest website he’s ever seen and he can’t believe that people pay me for my advice:)

Well I’ve gotten the last laugh. I have helped more people with their relationship problems over those first six years online then he probably ever has. And yes I did get paid for much of it. And yes my website left something to be desired — but it didn’t matter. My message and my experience resonated with my clients — and so will yours.

So while even today I am still guilty of the desire for all things to be in place before I move on to step two or step three, etc. — I catch myself. I recognize the insanity of it and I move on. Done is way better than waiting on perfection. Done leads to income!