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The Easy eBook: Electronic Storytelling Goes Beyond Novels


The illustrious “eBook” is something that the Kindle world is more than familiar with. Who wouldn’t love a whole collection of their favorite novels in the small space of an iPad? But, these marvelous works of electronic storytelling does not stop with novels.

Professionals have been gobbling up trade publications and business tricks in the form of eBooks for years now. So, how can you, a “lowly” startup, take part in all the fun? Well, it’s probably easier than you think. Let’s break it down.

Leverage Your Existing Content

The first mistake you’re probably making is assuming that you have to start from scratch and come up with an entire book’s worth of new content to fill your shiny new publication. In actuality, you’ve probably been building a library of tips, tricks and anecdotes for a long time.

Take your blog for example, aren’t those blog posts just mini chapters on a specific topic? If you run a graphic design company, then you’ve probably been posting blogs about visual hierarchy, marketing and conversion. Perhaps, even general trends in the space. Right there, you’ve got the makings for a solid Digital Design 101 eBook.

It’s more than just your blog, though. If you have a website, you have tons of information already floating around out there. This information can include case studies, “about us” pages and philosophies. Comb through the content and see what you have. Not only can you pull information directly from your site and expand on it, but you can use the information as inspiration for a larger, all-original book.

Listen to What Your Customers Want

Alongside your wealth of existing content, you probably have piles of comments, along with feedback and criticism from your friends, family and customers. Rather than going to market with a shot-in-the-dark eBook, you can take into account what people have already told you they want.

Which blog posts are performing best? Which Facebook posts get the most likes? What customer service complaints do you get? Taking a cue from your customers will ensure that the eBook is successful, but more importantly, it will ensure that you aren’t wasting your time on developing content to begin with.

Create and Edit Your Info

Now that you’ve determined what people want to hear and you’ve compiled the already-finished content you want to feature, it’s time to actually create your masterpiece. While a bulk of the work could already be done from existing blog posts, you’ll probably need to piece together a plan and structure. How should the content be grouped? How long should it be?

Beyond this, you’ll want to set up some general commentary to allow the book to flow as one unit, rather than a disjointed pastiche of your previous blogs. Write intros, conclusions, transitions, etc. It won’t take much time, but trust us; it will add some personality, depth and reliability to your book making it a much more viable product.

Provide Sneak Peeks

Now that you’ve got your ideal content, you’ve built it out and you know it’ll be received well. How do you make it worth your while? Sure, you might want to offer your eBook for download for a reasonable price (probably a few dollars, depending on the size), but try to take things a step further.

Most people are more likely to buy something if they can get a sneak peek and feel comfortable about their full purchase. Offer up a chapter or two for free and let users take things for a spin. Then, offer a download for the whole eBook. A solid marketing tactic is also about offering discounts, promotions and giveaways for signing up for an email list or following your social channels.

The takeaway here is to make the process as easy as possible. Your core business is (probably) not writing books. So, does it make sense for you to take valuable time away from your business to write a book in its entirety? Probably not. Leverage your content and use the product as a tool for your business.

Another takeaway is to remember that selling the eBook shouldn’t be your only goal. Maybe even give it away (depending on how much work you put in). Remember, the goal is to build brand trust and gain advocates. If you’re an authority on something, your fans will follow.

Savannah Marie is a writer and consultant for Clarity Way. She writes for various publications about creative content marketing, social media and public relations.

Enhance Your Content Marketing: Make It Visual


In case you haven’t noticed the shift within recent years, content marketing has a brand new bag. Now it’s not just about having good content, it’s about having good content that’s also visual.

Google’s new algorithm has clarified it’s not just about the quality of your content, but also the diversity of the content being offered. In order to get noticed and get the best rankings, your information should have value and the potential for action. 

For this reason, infographics have risen to the top as one of the most excellent forms of content available today. They have universal appeal which makes them beneficial for any industry and any topic.

Instructions and information are displayed in an original, visual format in infographics. Take a look at this great infographic from Clarity Way Rehab about child stars and drug abuse. Do you think people would be nearly as likely to share it if the data was one giant paragraph? Probably not.

If you want to develop infographics yourself and experience the great results of having a more visual brand, here are the steps you should follow to get started:

1.    The Planning Stage

Your goal should be to design infographics that are more than just relevant to the niche of your client; they should also be engaging and fun so your audience can’t help but share and talk about them. 

Researching your audience is a good first step to understanding the demographics your client is trying to target. Try to narrow your topics to what matters to your client and who they are trying to reach. You should also avoid purely promotional content because your audience will be skeptical of this.

2.    The Design Process

For optimal design, your infographic should feature a logical flow of information.  Infographics with a straightforward and simple design generally do much better than ones overloaded with data

One of the biggest issues infographic design presents is the challenge of finding the appropriate visual-to-text balance. Ideally, your text should be kept to a minimum. When you think about the purpose of an infographic, this makes sense: putting whole paragraphs into an infographic defeats the purpose of putting the information into visual form. 

Here are some things you should think about with regards to the design of your infographic:

Is the Infographic the Primary Source of Information?

The answer to this should influence how much time you spend on the design. You should always create high quality infographics, but it isn’t necessary to spend a long period of time researching information for something that’s only link bait. However, if your goal is to create an infographic that goes viral and generates a lot of buzz, you should go all out with your design.

Is Your Infographic Presented as a Story?

Your infographic should include both a beginning and an end or conclusion. This is helpful for your audience because it makes the content easier for them to follow. 

Does the Infographic Ask a Question?

Infographics that ask questions typically do well; they’re a great way to generate interest, and questions can be helpful when it comes to structuring your data and keeping it focused. 

3.    The Promotion Stage

It won’t matter how beautiful your infographic is if nobody is going to see it.  As soon as you’ve finished working on it, you should start sending it to relevant sites. You can use operators for search on Google to locate websites that take submissions for infographic material.

Always remember you shouldn’t send an embed code in your first email because it could be interpreted as spam, and your link runs the risk of losing value.  A smarter approach is to customize the introduction for every infographic you create. This makes your infographic more valuable and helps you connect with your audience. Connecting with your client in the introduction is also a good idea because it allows the website that is displaying the infographic to actively endorse your client.

Creating content that is as visual as it is exceptional is the key to staying on top in the new era of content marketing. To take your results from okay to outstanding, start following the steps listed above today.

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and social media guru. He currently lives in PA and with his wife and son. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington

How To Get More From Your Content Marketing Strategy


When your business or web site offers excellent content, and sees a growing influx of visitors as a result, then your business plan and promotional strategies are clearly being well-executed. But why stop there? There is always potential to be tapped in content marketing; your business should never surrender to complacency. Success itself, alongside excellent content, can be marketed effectively if you know where to start. The tips below will help business and web site owners seize upon their initial successes to achieve yet greater recognition.

Host a Podcast

Quality webcams and microphones can be had for $100 these days, so starting a podcast can be done on the cheap. There are over 31 million people in the United States who download at least one podcast per month, so it’s a large audience to tap into. The format isn’t an issue; you just have to know what to talk about, and how to promote your podcast.

The content of podcasts can be extremely flexible, ranging from a basic lecture-type presentation to a more multi-faceted approach involving reader questions, guest appearances and relevant sound bites. Promoting your podcast can be accomplished via your business’ web site and social media, in addition to reaching out to web forums interested in your business’ niche. As your podcast brings in followers and acclaim, the listeners will come.

Create and Utilize Infographics

Infographics are a great way to condense intricate information into useful, easy-to-read tidbits with graphical accompaniments. Sites like Visual.ly allow anyone — even the artistically non-inclined — to create effective infographics for their business or website. If your company has a graphic designer, then you have even more power. Take a look at this inforgraphic from CJ Pony Parts. It goes the extra mile, making it entirely immersive by having users press the right arrow key to accelerate a car which passes by useful tidbits of information. Infographics make digesting information fun, especially when spreading that information is a vital part of your business’ content marketing.

Write an eBook

Do you have knowledge of a certain niche or specialty? Great! You’re qualified to write an eBook — no publishers or mainstream platform required. In fact, you can host it right on your business’ web site, or on Amazon, where many user-submitted eBooks are popular on Kindle.

The point of an eBook is to channel your business’ specialty into an engrossing yet easy read. No one wants to read an eBook exclusively about one business, so be sure to reach out and examine your niche as a whole. Whether you create a self-help or informational eBook, hosting it as a PDF on your site will stir readers’ interests — especially if you come up with an eye-catching title that piques curiosity, like “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About…”

If you noticed a trend among the three tips above, it’s that they are all methods in condensing useful information to an easy-to-read or easy-to-listen format. Your audience never wants to become overwhelmed by information. Identifying the most important tidbits and implementing them in infographics, podcasts, or eBooks can be an effective way to expand the reach of your business. Conciseness and presentation are often key components of marketing success.

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and social media guru. He currently lives in PA and with his wife and son. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington

How Facebook Graph Search Will Impact Your Business


Search engines have always used algorithms to categorize data. Unfortunately, people don’t use algorithms to search for things – they use simple words and phrases. This has led to more intuitive search engines like Facebook Graph Search.

Graph Search is similar to other search engines, but it focuses on the careers, interests and activities of Facebook users. The search query can be as broad or specific as needed, but each search generates lots of results. Graph Search also presents a great way to combine SEO, local and social marketing. Read on to see how this latest tool could impact your business.

Greater Visibility

Some businesses create a Facebook page and then do very little to optimize it. That’s never a wise move, but even less so now that Graph Search could put your page in front of thousands of searchers on Facebook.

If anyone has ever liked your page, it may show up in one or more searches. Once people see a page that lacks content or key elements like a profile picture, they don’t bother coming back. Graph Search could increase your visibility, and this in turn will cause you to pay more attention to what you post on Facebook.

More Targeted Marketing

A specialized organization like 12 Keys Rehab relies on local SEO to attract business. However, it can be tough to decide whether to focus on your town, metro area or region. Graph Search automatically lists results by proximity, making local marketing easier.

Enter a generic phrase like “restaurants” and you’ll find dozens of places close to you. This is great when you’re trying to reach out to nearby residents. It also helps people planning a trip to your area. Anyone searching for businesses near you will find your page, and the exposure could lead them to look you up whenever they’re in town.

Better Word of Mouth

How many times have you asked friends to recommend a great dentist in the area? Have they ever asked you? With Graph Search and a sufficient number of likes, potential customers could find you without ever reaching their networks.

Before Graph Search, you had to find new ways to find new leads. Offering incentives to customer referrals was a big part of that. Graph Search makes this step easier, because your customers don’t have to do anything other than like your page. Now, they can bring you a whole bunch of new leads without having to go out of their way to do it.

A Renewed Focus on Content

Enabling leads to find your page is only the first step. Once they decide to visit, they need a good reason to stay. Offering valuable content such as infographics, tips, and videos on your page is the key to bringing in more visitors and attracting more likes.

Follow the same content rules you do with any other strategy. Include a healthy mix of special offers, status updates, news stories and other content relevant to followers. The resulting likes and chatter will make the rest of your Facebook strategy even more effective.

Time will tell what Graph Search does for businesses on Facebook. Now that it’s here, though, treat it like the valuable marketing tool it is.

Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, blogger, and social media guru. He currently lives in PA and with his wife and son. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington




5 Ways Social Media Has Impacted Retail


Retail as we once knew it has changed beyond all recognition.

The introduction of online shopping has split brands into one of two camps: those who are thriving, and those who are failing. Those who are thriving have embraced the Internet; seeing online shopping and social media integration as an extension of their bricks-and-mortar offering. Those who are failing have simply neglected to evolve.

One of the most dramatic changes to the way we shop has been down to our increased use of social media.

Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram have all transformed the way we see brands, browse products and give in to impulse purchases. We’re constantly exposed to our favourite retailers and their offering – whether at home, at work, or in the car – and the industry has evolved considerably to make room for this new wave of so-called ‘m-shoppers’.

Here, we take a look at 5 of the ways social media has impacted on retail:

1. Customer service

Twitter and other social networks have open brands up to their consumers in a more personal way than ever before. And while this can be a positive for many, it should also come with a word of warning.

Social media is instant; meaning that customers can quickly write rash comments on their accounts and fire them out into the World Wide Web. As a retailer on the receiving end of this kind of criticism, managing customer service can be tricky.

There are some brands that do this really well; ASOS for instance has a specific @ASOS_HereToHelp account where they handle customer queries round the clock. Others fail to respond adequately, resulting in a social media crisis of epic proportions.

2. Push towards ecommerce

Social media and ecommerce are natural companions.

For many retailers though, this takes attention away from their physical stores and is – by association – a negative. For some more conventional brands and retailers, this move towards an ecommerce generation is a negative.

And while it is true that social and ecommerce go hand-in-hand, it doesn’t have to be bad news for your brand. Many consumers will browse products online and then buy them in store, or vice versa. With these two parts of a retail offering working in harmony, brands should be utilising social media to drive sales across both elements.

3. Increased brand visibility

Social media increases brand visibility no end, opening them up to a brand new audience.

Free marketing and promotion is almost impossible to come by, so retailers should be jumping at the change to engage with their customers in a completely new way.  The drawback arrives when brands realise they need to invest a great deal of time into building up a following, and keeping them engaged.

For the brands that nail this though, social media can be a great way of boosting their retail presence and engaging with customers in a completely new way.

4. Reverse showrooming

Showrooming – the act of researching a product in a physical store and then buying it at a cheaper price online – has long since haunted retailers. With the help of social media though, retailers are actually encouraging these m-shoppers into store.

Brands are sharing images of their products on their social accounts, and directing customers in store. This act of ‘reverse showrooming’ is actually having a positive impact on retail through the building of customer relationships, brand engagement, and the driving of sales.

5. Sales and promotions

Another positive impact of social media on retail can be found within the running of sales and promotions. It is now easier than ever for brands to engage with their customers – and encourage them to spend – by running a social media promotion.

‘Retweet to win’ type campaigns are hugely popular; not only because they work, but because they also grow brand awareness. Retailers can drive customers to their online stores, or even provide offers that can only be redeemed in store.

Simple and effective, social media is a great way of raising awareness about a brand. For retailers, it is imperative they embrace the social media age. Those who failed to adapt are now missing from our high streets entirely.

Social media’s impact on retail doesn’t have to be negative; when a campaign is run correctly it can have huge rewards.

Clare Evans works for Green Room retail, one of Europe’s leading experiential creative practices, specializing in retail store design, visual merchandising and point-of-sale design. Speak to them today about transforming your store.

SEO – How to Manage Duplicate Content


SEO – How to Manage Duplicate Content

Is duplicate content a bad thing for your site? If so, how can you avoid it or fix it if it should occur?

Actually, the duplicate content you should be most worried about is your own. What other sites may do with your content, just as which sites link to you, is not always under your control.

Identifying Duplicate Content

Is duplicate content bad? Yes, it can dilute your anchor text, fragment your rankings and cause other negative effects.

Before you risk creating duplicate content (such as by using an article spinner) you should consider the value factor. Ask yourself of this content provides additional value. Don’t create content just for the sake of having more text on your site.

Each piece of content on your site should provide unique value. Ask yourself if you are sending bad signals to the search engines. They can evaluate multiple factors to identify duplicate content.

The important thing to remember is that a certain amount of duplicate content is acceptable and is not penalized by the search engines.

When I reprinted a commencement speech that Steve Jobs once gave, was that considered duplicate content? Well, Steve Jobs did not grant my site exclusive access, so naturally I had to reprint material that appeared elsewhere. This is a natural byproduct of extensive quoting or reporting on popular news events.

Managing Alternate Content

Every site can have legitimate uses of duplicate content. The key here is managing these effectively. Some reasons for duplicate content include: 1) content syndication or the use of RSS feeds 2) alternate document formats such as HTML, PDF or Word, and 3) using common code such as JavaScript CSS and boilerplate elements.

You should have a way to deliver alternate content. You want to set a default format to provide access to your visitors while disallowing the search engines.

You can do this through the proper use of a robots.txt file as well as excluding the URLs to duplicate formats on your site map.

Nofollow Attribute

The nofollow attribute is a useful tool for marking any duplicate but necessary pages on your site. This is also handy in the event that others link to such pages on your site, or to keep them from doing so.

If you have a page that contains an RSS feed rendering from another site that ten other sites also link to, it could appear to be duplicate content to the search engines. However, your content is not likely to be marked as duplicate unless a large percentage of your site consists of such content.

The important thing is to keep any common code from getting indexed. You can place your external CSS file in a separate folder which you keep from being crawled with your robots.TXT file. You can do the same for any other common external code such as JavaScript.

A little care and attention will help you to manage any duplicate content on your site and keep it from causing you to be penalized in the search engines.

Tim Arends is an Internet, Apple and computer user for nearly 20 years who is well-versed in technology and the Internet. He provides freelance writing services to bloggers, Internet marketers and app developers. Hire him for a complete content-creation strategy for promoting your business.


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