Running Out Of Topic Ideas For Your Blog? Use These 5 Tools

To keep up with your blog, you need a steady stream of content ideas. But, what do you do when your idea well runs dry?

You can search industry sites for inspiration, brainstorm with coworkers, or even ask your customers on social media what kind of content they want to see. In addition, there are a few idea-generating tools you can use to get ideas fast. Here are a few tools:

  1. Answer the Public

By entering a keyword, you’ll get dozens of content ideas in seconds by using Answer the Public. Just enter a keyword or phrase and you’ll get a spiral wheel of questions that the public might ask.

When “content marketing” was entered, it generated this visual list of common questions.

A lot of the questions are entry-level questions like, “What is content marketing?” or “Why is content marketing important?” However, a lot of writers sometimes overlook these simple topics when they’re generating ideas, so it’s a good tool for beginners.

  1. Hash At It

Head to the hashtag search engine Hash At It to search for particular keywords or phrases on a general topic. The search engine will troll Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest in real time to show you what people are talking about in relation to the topic. Let the hashtags inspire your next blog post.

  1. Flipboard

Rather than scour the web for inspirational ideas, let Flipboard do the work for you. Enter a topic that you’re interested in and Flipboard will suggest articles to read. You can also run searches and add content to your Flipboard to check out later.

The presentation of the app really makes it shine. Everything you “flip” onto your board is displayed in a magazine-like layout, making it even more appealing to use.

  1. Quora

Head to sites like Quora to determine some of the more timely inquiries or frequently asked questions in your industry. Just enter a word or phrase and you’ll get a list of results.

  1. Hubspot’s blog generator

Hubspot’s blog generator is a handy inspiration tool. Just fill in terms you’d like to write and you’ll get a week’s worth of relevant blog topics.

You can enter up to five phrases in a simple search bar, like this:

The idea generator gives you five different ideas, offered as simple slides that you flip through.

Consider outsourcing blog content

Creating blog content is a time-consuming process. Between research, writing, distributing and promoting – it can be a full-time job.

Many small brands don’t have the time or the assets to keep a blog running, which is why many outsource it.

A qualified content marketing team can provide the blog content you need on a timely basis. And, here’s the best part, there are plenty of affordable content packages that can fit any budget.

If you’re looking for help, reach out to McEwen’s Media where you can: Get. Content. Now.

8 Tools to Help You Create a Killer Blog Post

write-your-story-written-on-typewriter

Does your business website have a blog? If so, you’re making it easier for customers to find your business and products online. Research shows having a blog increases your chances of ranking high in search engine results by 434%. Yes, 434%.

But, blogging isn’t easy. It takes time to come up with ideas, research topics, write articles, find images, add links and post it to your site. To lessen the load, here’s a list of eight tools that businesses can use to create killer blog content:

 

1. Finding engaging topics

BuzzSumo can help you learn what content in your industry is the most shared and drawing the most engagement.

2. Writing prompts

CoSchedule offers a free list of 200+ writing prompts to generate blog content ideas. Examples include:

  1. What didn’t work for you?
  2. Write a parody post.
  3. Why I’m going to quit_________

3. Planning keywords for SEO

Do you ever wonder how people find your blog? Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that can help you find out what words or phrases consumers are searching for. You’ll need to have a Google Adwords account, but it’s free.

4. Voice to text

Billing itself as “the world’s best-selling speech-recognition software,” Dragon Naturally Speaking claims to be 3x faster than typing with 99% accuracy. What better way to get your thoughts on paper?

5. Creating infographics and charts

Boost your visuals with Canva. This online software offers simple design templates with drag-and-drop features to create infographics and graphs, edit photos and more.

6. Proofreading and editing

Check for plagiarism, improve your writing and eliminate grammatical errors with Grammarly. It’s an impressive go-to software for many bloggers.

7. Crafting compelling titles

The Advanced Marketing Institue offers a free tool to measure the emotional marketing value (EMV) of your headline. Just enter a headline, choose a category and hit submit. The greater the score, the better the likelihood that it will perform well on social media channels.

8. Checking for broken links

There are few things more annoying to readers than clicking on links that lead to nowhere. Run your blog through Integrity, Sonftonic’s free software that checks for broken internal and external links.

Wrap up

Creating content for a blog is effective, but time-consuming. There are dozens of tools that can help, but there’s still a learning curve. A reputable content marketing company can not only create content for you but also help you understand your audience and the type of content that’s most effective for them. If you’re ready to take your blog to the next level, reach out to McEwen’s Media.

The 10 Commandments of Content Marketing

Are you producing content for your website or blog? If so, you’re taking part in content marketing. You’re using well-crafted articles and graphics to educate consumers, raise brand awareness and drive sales.

As you sit at your laptop working on this content, there are a few things you should remember. The world of content marketing has a some rules. These rules are sacred; so sacred that they’re referred to as commandments.

Whether you’re creating a how-to article for your website or producing a killer infographic for your blog, thou shall heed the advice set forth in The 10 Commandments of Content Marketing.

4 Ways to REALLY Irritate A Freelancer and How to Avoid It

Content marketing is powerful. It’s an affordable way to engage customers and drive sales, but it’s a time-consuming task. To create content, it requires time to research, write articles, design infographics, produce videos, format content on the site, promote it on social – the list goes on and on.

To succeed, many companies hire freelance copywriters or designers to help ease the workload. I am one of those freelancers.

My husband and I run a content marketing company that helps businesses drive sales through amazing content. I love my job. I really do. I work with some amazing clients. But, there’s always a client or two that just doesn’t get it.

Everyone has a coworker (or three) that they just don’t work well with. I get that. But, when you’re working with a freelancer remotely, relationships are different. Sometimes, marketers don’t even know they’re irritating the crap out of me.

What are marketers doing that’s so frustrating? And, more importantly, how can you avoid it? Here’s a look at some of the ways you can irritate the crap out freelancers:

  1. Asking for 52 revisions

Unlike some freelancers, I’m not married to the words I write. I have no problem revising content – within reason. And that’s where some marketers get hung up.

When you review a piece of content, by all means, mark it up and ask for changes, if necessary. But, what you shouldn’t do is get a round of revisions back and then decide you want to add a section and rearrange a paragraph. And then, once those revisions are made, decide to add examples and swap statistics for another source.

Takeaway: When you review an article, do it once. Put all of your requests on paper and don’t hand it back to the writer until you’ve really reviewed the piece.

If you want more control, you could discuss the possibility of creating an outline before the piece is written. During the outline process, you can make suggestions so the final piece is exactly what you’re looking for.

  1. Asking for a rewrite after approving an outline

When I work with a client, I provide a list of content ideas, what format the content should take (like a blog post or infographic), SEO keywords that will be included in the piece, and a description of the article.

Nine times out of ten, this is all that’s needed. The list is tweaked, approved, and I get to work.

However, when I work with a client that has a tendency to ask for 52 revisions, I’ll suggest creating an outline, as I mentioned above.

The outline provides a very detailed picture of what the blog article will look like, and yet, I have had clients ask me to replace or add entire sections after approving the outline. So, why did I create the outline? Talk about frustrating.

Takeaway: Take time to review an outline and think about the finished product. If you want to make large-scale additions or changes, do so during the outline process.

  1. Keeping a writer in the dark

Freelancers usually work remotely. Since we’re not in the office with you, we don’t know what’s going on at your business internally.

If your company is going through a rebrand, tightening budgets, or downsizing your department, a freelancer is usually the last to know.

I had a client go radio silent once. We were creating content together for about a year. I was responsible for crafting blog articles and infographics monthly, and then, nothing. She disappeared.

As it turns out, the company was struggling. About 30% of employees were cut and marketing budgets were slashed. The marketer that I worked with lost her job.

But, she never said a word to me. I had to send an email to her boss to hear the news, and as it turns out, she knew about her position being eliminated five months in advance.

I’m sorry she lost her job, but why on earth wouldn’t you just send me an email to let me know?

Takeaway: Don’t keep freelancers in the dark. If you’re leaving your job, cutting back on content, or managing a problem that effects the freelancer you work with – SAY SOMETHING.

It’s hard to maintain a steady salary as a freelancer, so please, do us the courtesy of informing us of changes.

  1. Not paying in a timely fashion

Most employees get paid every two weeks. Freelancers typically aren’t awarded the same luxury. And, you know what? That’s ok. A lot of my clients have Net 30 payment terms and I’m fine with that.

But, under no circumstances should I have to hound you for payment. Ninety percent of my clients pay on time, every time. But, I’ve had a few clients that require reminders…and another…and another.

If you can’t pay a freelancer, don’t hire one. If I have trouble receiving payment, I cut ties. I don’t work for free.

Takeaway: Pay your freelancers. Period. When you begin a relationship, set payment terms. You should agree on a price for each piece of content, how frequently invoices will be sent, and when invoices will be paid. Once everything is agreed upon, stick to it.

Wrap up

With the surge in content marketing, hiring a freelancer is a great way to keep fresh content streaming in. The best way to maintain a healthy relationship with a freelancer is to provide clear direction, have realistic expectations, and keep him or her informed of changes. Do that, and you’ll have a great, long-term relationship.

 

 

 

 

 

Twitter Embraces a New Tool That Recognizes Tweetstorms

Have your heard a tweetstorm? They’re a series of connected tweets that help users say more than the 140-character limitation.

Twitter has recently announced that it’s testing out a feature that embraces “tweetstorms,” and gives users the ability to string tweets together with click of a button.

The new feature, which is called “threads,” is still in the testing phase but it’s something to watch.

First, more characters per tweet

The move comes on the heels of the platform doubling its character limit—from 140 to 280.

Part of the decision came from the results of Twitter’s research, which found that 9% of tweets were hitting the character limit. As Twitter’s blog explains, “This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even, at times, abandoning tweets before sending.”

With the extended longer character count, only 1% of tweets are maxing out.

Next, more tweets

The success of the longer character count led to the idea that users may want to “serialize a longer story or thought, or provide ongoing commentary on an event or thread,” according to Twitter’s blog.

Users have the option to tweet, hit the plus button and then repeat until their thread is complete, at which point they’d hit the “Tweet all” button. Users can also update previously posted threads by opening the tweet and tapping “add another tweet.”

Ways to use threads

All the fun options are still available to add to your thread—videos, photos, GIFS and emojis—to turn your short story into an illustrated piece. Just as they did with single tweets, users can still use polls, hashtags and @replies.

For businesses, tweeting in threads throughout the day can build excitement or suspense. Or you can use the new feature to piece together a fully crafted message that might otherwise lose meaning if condensed to only one tweet.

If the feature gets a green light, will you use it to promote content on your website or blog? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

5 Tips to Hire a Digital Marketing Company

To sell your product or service, you have to market it. It’s that simple. A lot of small business owners dabble in marketing, using a do-it-yourself approach in hopes of saving money.

Research shows 47% of small businesses manage their own marketing, according to a recent report from LeadPages.

But, there’s a lot to do. To market your business, you need a mobile-friendly website, a presence on social media, a regularly updated blog, email campaigns and graphic content to share like infographics and videos. If you don’t have time to create all of this content, it might be time to hire a digital marketing company.

Why hire a digital marketing company?

There are a lot of reasons to hire a digital marketing company. Here are the most common ones:

  • Focus on your business

By turning the marketing chores over to another company, you can focus on what you do best – running your business. Think about how many hours you spend creating an email campaign or updating your company LinkedIn page. It’s a lot of time, right? You’ll get all of that valuable time back when you hire a digital marketing company.

  • Save money

If you outsource your marketing, you don’t have to hire an employee to do. That means, you won’t have to worry about payroll taxes or healthcare benefits.

You can hire a marketing company to handle tasks as needed or create a monthly list of tasks that you’d like outsourced.

In addition, you’ll save money on subscription fees to services like MailChimp or Hootsuite because the marketing company handles all of those ancillary costs.

  • Get results

When you hire a digital marketing company, you’ll attract and retain more customers. With a dedicated team of professionals working to create and share content to customers, you can expect to see a return on investment that makes marketing a solid investment.

Tips to hire a digital marketing company

When you’re ready to find a digital marketing company, there are certain things you’ll want to look for. Here’s a list of tips to help:

  • Go with a small company

There are many companies to choose from, but working with a smaller marketing company has a lot of benefits. Small digital marketing companies offer unparalleled customer service. You’re not a number at a small firm, you’re a client with a promising product or service.

In addition, you’ll often find that rates are more affordable at small marketing companies.

  • Find a company you can grow with

Look for a digital marketing company that offers a variety of services and packages. You might start by asking the marketing company to manage your social channels, but in a few years you may want to add more services like blog management, graphic design or video production.

  • Ask for references

If you were hiring an employee for your store or salesperson for your software company, you’d call some of their references before offering him or her the job, right? The same rule applies when you hire a digital marketing company.

Ask the company to provide the names of two clients so you can reach out and learn more.

  • Discuss workflow

You need to know how the digital marketing company works. Will they pitch ideas and create content calendars? How will they deliver content? What’s the review process? Who is responsible for uploading content? How often is the marketing company checking in with the owner?

As you select services for a digital marketing company to handle, make sure you ask questions about the workflow.

  • Talk about metrics and reports

You’ll want to track your return on investment, so talk with the digital marketing company about how it tracks the success of campaigns. Most companies provide a monthly report that shows important metrics like click-throughs and conversions.

Wrap up

To hire the right digital marketing company requires research, but once you find a company that fits you’ll start to see results. You’ll have more time to invest in your business all while your product or service is marketed to new and existing customers on your behalf.

As you research digital marketing companies, please visit the McEwen’s Media website. As a small digital marketing company with 10+ of years of experience, we’d like to help your company grow its bottom line. Check out our services to learn more.

5 Signs That It’s Time to Outsource Your Marketing

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On average, small business owners spend about 20 hours a week marketing their small business. Owners understand the importance of marketing, but they end up neglecting other aspects as they tend to a growing number of marketing channels.

Devoting time to marketing is essential. No question. But, trying to do it all yourself is a daunting and almost impossible task.

If you’re juggling social media posts, online ads, blog creation and video production on your own, it might be time to hire some help.

Here are five signs that it’s time to outsource your marketing:

5 Signs That It's Time to Outsource Your Marketing

Outsourcing doesn’t have to break the bank. If you find the right marketing company, you can outsource the tasks you want. Talk with McEwen’s Media [LINK] to learn more about their affordable marketing packages.

Facebook Fails: 6 Things That Drive Your Fans Nuts

Facebook

Facebook has its perks. You love checking in on old friends and seeing pictures of your buddies. And who hasn’t stalked an ex-boyfriend’s page to check out his new girl? While there are many benefits to this social media platform, odds are, you’ve got some fans that drive you nuts.

There are some unwritten Facebook rules that certain fans break. To make sure you’re not one of those fans, we’ve created a list of Facebook posts that you should be wary of. These kinds of posts will drive your fans nuts – guaranteed.

Food pictures

Unless you’re Emeril, stop posting food pictures. This might sound harsh, but no one cares what you’re eating for dinner. You don’t want to lose Facebook followers because you’re oversharing during mealtime.

Shameless work plugs

We all have a friend or two (or 12) who are forever promoting themselves. These “look at me” posts are driving your fans nuts. Of course, it’s all about moderation. If you tell folks that you’re giving a guest lecture once in a while, that’s fine. We all use social media as a promotional tool, but you should do so sparingly.

Constant complaints

If you’re a “life is always terrible” poster, your fans will block you. Whether you’re constantly complaining about your kids or can’t resist the urge to tell the world about your crappy boss, no one wants to hear daily updates about how bad your life is.

Constant sunshine

Of course, the exact opposite of the constant complainer is that fan that has the perfect life. I truly wish everyone’s life were as rosy as the Facebook posts exclaim, but it’s just not possible to be perfect all the time.

Non-stop pictures of your kids

You use Facebook so you can stay in touch with friends and family that you wouldn’t normally keep up with. Pictures are a big part of this equation. However, you don’t need to document your child’s every moment. A picture here and there is great – encouraged even. But your fans – and most importantly – your child will thank you for not posting potty training pictures on Facebook.

A daily blow-by-blow

Do you have a friend who updates his or her status three or four times a day with super mundane posts? You’re nodding aren’t you? Listen up Facebookers, getting the mail doesn’t warrant a post. Resist the urge to tell your fans about returning from work, sitting down to lunch, or waiting for a doctor’s appointment. We don’t need to hear about every nuance of your day, really we don’t.

So, what’s left to post about, you wonder? The takeaway message is to vary your posts. Keep your fans updated, not overwhelmed; informed, not bored. Facebook is a great communications tool, but you should think about your audience as you’re posting.