Archive for Writing for the Web – Page 2

Expert Ebook Writing: 5 Steps to Get Started

5-StepsIf you’re an expert in your field and want to publish a digital book, how should you get started writing content?

  1. Write down 3 – 5 of your most compelling stories, ideas, nuggets, mistakes, or experiences you think interest your readers.
  2. What’s your point? (What’s your unique message you want readers to know that will impact their lives?)
  3. Write out a working title and a tag line that clearly states what the book is about and what it is designed to solve for readers.
  4. What’s your conclusion, what you want readers to do, think, believe, act on…? What’s your call to action?
  5. Write an outline that explains in a sequential order how you will provide benefit to readers.

(Please note that in each of these steps, the word “readers” is mentioned. Your readers are clearly at the heart of your book. In other words, you aren’t, they are.)

At this point you can continue writing or start looking for a ghost writer. Ask yourself, is it worth my time to learn how to do this and actually write the sentences, or hire a writer who already knows how to string together sentences, paragraphs, chapters from preface to conclusion, to notes, etc.? Read More→

Who’s an Expert, and Why Experts Write Ebooks

ExpertEbooks-StuartMilesIn my current series of posts about writing ebooks, I’m primarily addressing the challenges of experts who want to write and publish a digital book, for example, on Amazon.

Who, exactly, is an expert? Who qualifies? I don’t know that there’s any definition or standard that one must go by. To me, my clients are professionals such as doctors, lawyers, consultants, coaches, speakers and educated people who’ve been practicing their skills for 20, 30 or more years. They’re experts.

Wikipedia defines an expert as someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study.

I guess just about anybody can call themselves an expert, especially if they have knowledge and skills that others don’t. Writing and publishing an ebook doesn’t make you an expert, but it certainly shows your knowledge, experience and value as such.

Why Write an Ebook instead of a Printed Book?

There is no denying the shift that is happening in the book industry: ebooks are on the rise and here to stay. Check out some of the latest industry data:

  • E-book sales grew dramatically in the first quarter of 2010, jumping from just 1.5% of total US book sales in 2009 to 5% of the market in the first quarter of 2010. Source: R.R. Bowker
  • The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) reported U.S. wholesale ebook sales for January, 2010 were $31.9 million, up 261 percent from the same month a year earlier.

Reports from Amazon

  • Ebooks are now outselling hardcover books at Amazon, selling 180 e-books for every 100 hardcovers.
  • Jeff Bezos told the USA Today that he predicts Kindle ebook sales will outsell all books (including paperback) within a year.
  • The Kindle is now available at Target and Best Buy.
  • Amazon sold more than 3x as many Kindle books in the first half of 2010 as in the first half of 2009.

Most experts I know believe that by publishing an ebook, they’ll get known by a larger number of people. They’ll establish credibility by writing about what they know best. They’ll connect with readers who may have exactly the kinds of problems they can solve.

To me, writing and publishing an expert ebook not only makes sense, but is a requirement for anyone who wants to use the Web to get found, get known and get clients. What do you think?

(Image: freedigitalphotos.net)

Is Ebook Writing Different than for a Blog,
Webpage, or Printed Book?

Ebook-WritingIn this series of blog posts about writing an expert ebook, we explore these questions about digital content writing, or content marketing:

  • How is writing an ebook different from writing a blog post, a special report, a web page, or for a printed book?
  • Are there any grammar or style differences?
  • Formatting issues aside, what are the rules and best practices to improve readability and boost readership numbers?

Or, is it any different? Most people I know, including many of my clients for whom I ghost write and edit, assume that all book writing is the same. They try to follow the rules of style and grammar learned in school.

They could be wrong. If there’s one thing rapidly changing technology has taught us is to question everything. Don’t assume anything.

What worked for Dickens and Hemingway won’t necessarily work for you on the Web. It might work, but then again it probably won’t. Read More→

Top 4 SEO Tips for Small Business Blogs on a Shoestring Budget

Shoestring-Budget-SEOThe Search Engine Optimization landscape has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. One of the side-effects of these changes has been the fact that many low-cost SEO tactics have lost their effectiveness and power.

Consequently, a lot of small businesses and professionals today are struggling to achieve their SEO goals on a restricted budget. After all, for small companies, hiring an expensive agency is often not feasible. Having said that, there are still a lot of smart yet pocket-friendly SEO tips that businesses can implement on a shoestring budget.

Here are 4 top SEO tips for small businesses on a shoestring budget:

Contribute to High Authority Blogs in Your Niche

Aim your energies at quality blogs. This will help you to develop referral traffic, cultivate thought leadership, and garner authoritative and quality links. Of course, you’ll only be able to do that if you generate remarkable content that offers actionable information.Here are a few strategies that can help you identify quality blogs:

a) Create an account on platforms like myblogguest, etc. These platforms create a meeting point for bloggers and blog owners looking for guest blogs, so you can easily identify quality opportunities.

b) Download the Google Chrome PR plugin. It will let you see the PageRank of every blog you visit instantly. While PR is not the sole indicator of a blog’s quality, PR 2+ blogs that show regular updates and host quality posts, can be good prospects.

c) Run a Google search for potential high authority blogs by using the niche areas you want to blog about with the keyword “guest blogs”. For example, let’s you want to write posts about e-cigarettes, your search query could be “E-cigarette guest blogs”, “quit smoking guest blogs”, etc.

Publish Quality Content on Blogs by Content Curating and Accumulating Content

Content curation is the act of collecting, discovering and offering digital content that surrounds some specific subject matter.Content is the most effective SEO tool there can be, if used right. But, the major problem that a large number of business owners or bloggers face is the lack of quality blog content. Luckily, there are gazillion resources available that can be used to generate interesting content ideas.That’s where content curation comes in. Simply put, content curation involves:

a) Researching and putting together top blogs on a subject.

b) Quoting important paragraphs from the blogs, and giving them proper citations and credit.

c) Adding your own spin, or interpretation to what’s already been published.

Conduct Competitive Link Analysis Using Free Tools

One of the things that helps your website rank higher is the number of links from other reliable and reputable website that link back to your website. There are two ways you can do this, either get someone to do it for you or do it on your own.

Look for websites that are linking back to your competitor’s website. You may use Open Site Explorer, to do this. With OSE’s free services, you may not be able to get all the data, but you’ll still be able to gather information to get started with your own link building activities.If you can stretch your budget a little, you may as well opt for paid membership for detailed information about your competitors link-building activities. There are lot’s of tools like, SEOSpyGlass, Majestic SEO, etc, that you can use.

Use External Proficiency and Expertise Tactically

Before engaging in a complete retainer based relationship with an agency, seek out the following kind of arrangements:

a) Monthly consultancy: Some SEO agencies or consultants do sell hourly consultations, which is a very smart way to garner some useful insights for a lesser fee.

b) DIY SEO audits: You may use free tools like Seoptimer, WooRank, Goingup, etc to do a review/audit for your website, so that you can identify the areas that need improvement. Then hire contractors and assign them specific tasks suggested by the tool, and implement the changes that require minimal technical expertise in-house.

c) Use free SEO tools to keep track of your performance: Free versions of tools like Ranking Checker by SEOmoz.com, SEO Analyzer by Sitening.com or SEO for Firefox by SEOBook.com, can all be of great help.

When it comes to budgeting, you have to make a choice between investing time or money. For small businesses, these cost-effective SEO tips make a lot of sense, however, if you adopt them you have to be prepared for some time investment, especially if you plan to implement all of them in-house. Good Luck!

Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides SEO services to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to write on your blog too please contact www.pitstopmedia.com.

Image Source

 

Bloggers: Brush Up on Your Writing Skills

Content-Matters-Blog-Writing-TipsBusiness bloggers: just how good are your writing skills?

Most bloggers and those who run small businesses that publish blogs are not natural-born writers, or even trained writers. Most businesspeople studied things such as marketing, communication, or business.

It’s not often they’ve studied English or creative writing. Yet it’s becoming expected that businesses have a well-written blog, as well as expertly-written content on their website.

Some businesses can afford to hire professional writers to author their blog and/or website. This is great, if you can handle the expense. Many small businesses are not willing or able to pay a writer when first starting out. So how can you brush up on your writing skills in order to maintain a professional blog and website for your company?

There are lots of resources for business bloggers available in many different mediums. Here are some ideas:

  1. Books: Good old fashioned reading can definitely help you to review grammar and sentence structure rules. There are many good books out there on writing. A search on Amazon for “writing skill reference books” turns up many titles that are well-reviewed by customers. Most can also be purchased in an eBook format for reading on the go. You could certainly purchase one of these books and read it when you have a few free moments. Any effort you put into learning more about writing well will show in your material. Read More→

Better Content Marketing:
Words and Numbers Matter

Content-MattersAs a psychologist, I’m fascinated by how our brains work. When writing online content, I try to apply neuroscience to understanding why some copy outperforms others. When writing for business, i.e. content marketing, you want to get the words right, so that  your web pages, blogs and e-newsletters get results for your business.

Words matter. Content matters. Sometimes it boils down to just one word or set of words that can make the difference between a customer who reads or one who clicks away. For example, which do you think has more impact:

  1. The surgery has a 95% survival rate
  2. One out of 20 patients die from the procedure

If you are like most people, you would find the second statement far more worrisome even though the odds are the same. Even in today’s marketing world, where we are inundated with images and sounds, words still matter a great deal.

There is a subtle but important difference between “10 percent” and “1 out of every 10.” Roger Dooley cites examples in his book Brainfluence: Read More→

SEO: 3 Things Journalists and Bloggers Can Learn

Blog-Definition-by-StuartMilesFrom what I see, many bloggers aren’t using hyperlinks when they publish blog posts. Worse, in some cases, they aren’t teaching writers about this in online writing courses. I just attended a week-long writer’s conference in San Miguel. and although there were a few workshops on blogging and online creative non-fiction writing, not one word about keywords or linking!

I could be wrong, of course, because I didn’t sit through the only two courses on social media and blogging basics. But everywhere I attended (there were three courses per day over four days), even opening paragraphs ignored this online basic fact of life: When publishing online, your content must be optimized for search engine indexing.

Granted, this was a course for fiction and non-fiction publications and writers. But if the experts aren’t teaching search engine basics to writers, where will they learn it? For sure, most journals are all published online.

Here’s the thing: when you follow the basic common sense rules for getting your article found online, it’s also good structure for making sense to the readers. Here’s why, reviewing three basics of search engine optimization and how it applies for both getting found and getting read: Read More→

5 Reasons to Hire a Content Marketing Writer for Your Business

Content Marketing-Hire-Writer-for-your-businessContent is king.Bill Gates said it, so it must be true.

Gates uttered this one-liner way back in 1996, but the flurry of updates to Google search algorithms during 2012 has ensured that his words still resonate.

Most businesses (be they blog owners, start-ups, or established brands) now know that if they want a competitive advantage, they have to keep information-hungry customers in a ready supply of fresh, relevant, and interesting content. Depending on the type of the business, content might also be expected to be awe-inspiring. No pressure, of course.

One of the biggest problems with content is finding someone to write it. Even if you’re a great writer, or have people on staff who are, it takes time and skill to craft an article, blog or newsletter appropriate for both your audience of potential customers and the search engines.

Could the answer be to outsource the writing to a freelancer?

Let’s consider the benefits of doing so: Read More→

My Business Website: Content for Customers… or SEO?

Should my business website focus on keywords and getting search engine results? Or quality content for customers?

Perhaps a more important question is “How do I make the most of each of my web pages so that my business and I get found, get known, and get clients?”

The challenge:

You want to make sure that your business website is fresh, attractive and informative. People visiting your website want to see something that piques their curiosity in you and your products and services.

Or put another way, you want to satisfy readers who ask: “What are you going to do for me that will… (Fill in the blank).”

Always keep that ideal customer in mind when crafting your message. The content must be relevant, new and, of course, SEO “friendly.” This last requirement can seem the most daunting, especially for non-technical professionals who are less familiar with websites and online content marketing.

The “SEO Friendly” site:

For good SEO results, each page needs to be both keyword-rich and current. That means pages are updated frequently with good (relevant) content that is keyword-rich and unique, and appeals to what customers seek. You need to make your keywords obvious.

Do not use a template or basic page format and tweak the content. Search engines will not know which page to rank for what keywords. Similarly formatted content can easily be classified as duplicate content and you risk being penalized or ignored by the search engines. Read More→

Keyword Research: What Smart Professionals Know

We have at least two audiences when we write on the web: people and search engines. My clients tell me it feels hard to write well for both, and in my experience, it’s because they’ve skipped the first step in the process: Keyword research. (Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

If I were to optimize my web copy for what I believe to be my main keyword phrase, I’d certainly be helping Google know when to serve up my post in search results. But my post still might never show up if the keyword phrase I’ve used and optimized for is not one that anyone uses to search!

That’s why keyword research is so important – I want to use keyword phrases that people are actually using when searching online! Then, not only does Google know when to serve up my post, but now I match how people are looking for what I have! The likelihood that I’ll get found, get known and get clients has just increased dramatically. Read More→