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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Finding value in old content

I’ve written a lot of blog posts and newsletter articles. Hopefully I’m not the only one who thinks there is valuable information amongst my writing and that people have learnt a thing or two from me!

So to reshare some of that past information, I see two options – copy it to make it appear recent or refer to it.

Copying old content

It is an interesting question – should you grab old content and just paste it in as a new blog post or newsletter article?

I prefer to offer new information so someone could theoretically read back through all my posts and not read the same piece twice.

I guess I’m a bit of a purist as pretending old content is new seems like cheating to me, but I accept that most of us need to save time – and it isn’t always easy to think of new things to write about.

However, I see bigger reasons to not copy old content forward. For one, my old content is still available where it is so anyone can search for it if they’re after that topic. It seems a little silly to copy it across so it could show up in twice in a search – and wouldn’t do my credibility much good, either. Then there is the duplicate content punishment it could potentially get from Google and friends.

Writing by quill and candle light

Old content still has value despite technology advances

If we’re talking about a post from at least a couple of years ago, I would think an update is often a good idea anyway. Things change quickly in this technological age – an article on online marketing five years ago would have excluded Twitter and Pinterest so that article would be out of date and less valuable now.

Referring to old content

I much prefer referring back to old content.

In fact, I do it all the time by adding links to my blog posts and newsletters that lead back to older posts so people can get further, related information.

Instead of copying across an old post, I think it’s more valuable to link back to that post and expand on that topic or give an update. Going back to out online marketing example, I could write a new blog post along the lines of “Back in 2007 I wrote about online marketing. With the introduction and growth of new social media channels, it is now time to update my list of marketing options.” I don’t have to rewrite all of the old content because the link does that for me.

Social media itself provides another way to reshare old content – it is just as easy to tweet a link to an old post as a new one, for example.

Resharing my old content

At the start of each month, I send out my newsletter.

Starting now, at the end of each month I will look back at some old content from that same month (for example, in May I will refer back to something I wrote in May in a previous year).

Some of that content may need updating, other bits won’t as grammar and good writing doesn’t change the same way technology and business practises can.

So look out for some reshared ideas on Thursday…

And you?

How do you share your old content?

What do you think about seeing old content?

Is copying content across as if new a time saver or not-quite-right? Would anyone even notice?

Social media predicts stuff

Grasping at possible future options

Which option will be our future?

I have just read a great article* by Amy Birchall about social media being used to predict the future.

A researcher at Illinois University, Kalev Leetaru, was able to ‘predict’ events such as the Libyan revolution, Osama bin Laden’s location and the Arab spring revolts by monitoring conversations and trends on Twitter. (This made me think of the TV show Person of Interest which is based on a machine predicting the future!)

Extrapolating from that and other observations, the article discusses how social media can be used in many fields to predict things – giving warning to health authorities about epidemics for instance could be very important. Obviously, marketers and advertisers are interested by this as they can predict trends and position themselves accordingly.

It has also pointed out how valuable it can be to target the right (read influential) people can be. The example given was to immunise 96% of people for community immunity – or immunise the most connected 30% for similar results. In business terms, work at promoting yourself to 96% of your market, or to the 30% that influences the rest of the market.

With hash tags and various data monitoring and mining platforms available, it is possible to use social media to research your market and tailor marketing to suit. Have you used social media to decide on a strategy or campaign? Do you think it helped you make good decisions?

 

* I would love to link to the article for you but I can not find it online – Management Today does have a website and lists a number of articles but not this one unfortunately. I could upload a photocopy of the article but that would breach copyright so I won’t!

Making topics seasonal

My January enewsletter resulted in the question of how to make your blog or newsletter topic seasonal occasionally to generate timely interest and show an external connection.

Don’t assume you can only use major events (like Christmas, the end of financial year and Mothers Day) for a seasonal flavour to your blog and newsletter. Find seasonal things throughout the year that are relevant for your clients – especially things around times when your marketing may need an extra boost.

Here is a list  of seasonal examples I’ve though of to get your creativity flowing…

  • at the start of summer, a hairdresser writing a hair care blog can discuss protecting hair from chlorine and salt
  • many businesses can find a new year’s link – make a resolution to get fit, sort out your accounts, update your will, care for your heath (quit smoking, visit a dentist, get your eyes tested, etc), buy new tyres or learn something new are just a few possibilities. Write about what is possible and give tips on how to achieve it
  • a car detailer could write a newsletter article on how to make a car nice before taking out someone special on Valentines Day
  • anyone in security (including computer security) can give blog tips on protecting empty homes and offices leading up to major holidays (Christmas, Australia Day and Easter for instance) when people won’t be at home
  • any business can support an awareness or fundraising event so write about your efforts even if not directly related to your goods or services – e.g. give a discount to all new parents during world breastfeeding week, offer a part of profits to the cancer council in Movember. Use the newsletter article or blog post to explain why the cause matters. The event or cause may not be related to your industry but make sure it does align with your brand and company beliefs.
  • write blog posts and newsletter pieces about clients or suppliers who do community work around a specific event (such as a client who shaves for ‘shave for a cure’ or a cafe who hosts a ‘biggest morning tea’)
  • in September or October, a VA could write about spring cleaning a filing system and a ducting specialist can write about the importance of cleaning heating ducts
  • a nutritionist could explain the benefits of hen eggs over chocolate eggs around Easter time
  • a physio interested in RSI topics will find plenty of examples during January with the Hopman Cup, Brisbane International and Australian Open underway
  • a town planner has the Tour Down Under and Tour de France to inspire blog posts about including bike paths in developments
  • Clean up Australia Day is a great time to post about reducing clutter (any organisers or storage solution people?) and cleaning (cleaners, cleaning product sellers and chimney sweeps)
  • a conservationist can give non-paper wrapping tips in December and environmentally friendly cleaning ideas for Clean up Australia Day or spring cleaning – in an electronic (not paper) newsletter of course!

What creative seasonal ties have you used in your blog posts and newsletter articles?

Reading resources

I’ve managed to catch up on some newsletter and blog reading in the last few days so I thought I’d share some of the more interesting ones so you can benefit from them, too.

All related to business today, some back-end details (like blog security) and some customer related issues, but all worth a read. In order that I think of them…

How to do yourself out of a thousand bucks – the ethics of business

Social media, trade secrets and why you shouldn’t give a rip about the competition – great message and enjoy the graphic too!

Why perfect is the only acceptable business measure

5 easy tasks to outsource as you grow your business

how to keep your WordPress blog secure

Working at home blog carnival –  in particular, I liked the included posts by Eldon and Blogging your passion (and my own of course!)

Customer Service Carnivale

Preparing business for difficult times 

Happy reading! If you have any comments on these posts, I’d love to hear them…

Guest blog or promotional article?

Recently I was asked if there is any difference between a promotional article and a guest blog post.

The short answer is definitely 🙂

Here’s the longer answer! A promotional article is 500 – 600 words of information that you make available for people to use on websites and in newsletters. At the end of the article is your bio which is how you get promotion by letting people use your article.

A guest blog post is a blog post you write for someone else’s blog. The length will vary depending on the blog and topic involved but is probably 300 – 500 words long. You may have a bio at the end of the post, a bio elsewhere on the blog or simply a link from the author line. Generally, the blog post is not duplicated anywhere else.

So the promotional article will potentially be used in many places while a guest blog post is generally used once. Guest blog posts give you exposure almost exclusively though blogs (ie attracts people who read blogs to read your blog) whereas promotional articles get broader exposure and don’t require you to have a website, blog or newsletter.

Which do you prefer to write and use?

Have promotional articles seen their day?

On Sunday I wrote about the value of promotional articles, but I thing there is another important question – have they be over used? are they just a waste of time?

articles form Word ConstructionsMy answer – no!

There are certainly a lot of promotional articles available, and many are not worth the time to read (or write!), but for a well prepared article there is definitely a return on the investment of preparing promotional articles.

A couple of reasons promotional articles are still worth considering to promote a business:

  • people still want content for sites, ezines and blogs – promotional articles save them time and provide a variety of information for their readers
  • things change so there is a need for current articles to replace out dated ones – for example, articles about employing staff in 2010 would not cover paid parental leave responsibilities
  • each topic has many angles so even if there are 50 articles on running a business as a parent, you may be able to suggest a different perspective or a new method
  • search engines and people want fresh content so even if Joe Blogs wrote a fantastic article on email marketing it could be time someone else wrote one so we don’t read Joe’s article in five different newsletters
  • we all have different approaches to learning so the way you explain something in an article may be a better way for some people to understand it

In short, the internet has put us into an information age and there is power to those who provide quality information. Promotional articles are an excellent way to share information so we have not seen the end of their value.

If you’re still doubtful, think about the last time you searched for information online – what were the most useful sources?

promotional articles worth the effort?

Business success is not guaranteed and there is no magic button to push that will get your  business moving the way you want it to. Repetition of information and tasks is necessary, regardless of how boring it may seem. I have often heard that if you aren’t doing something then you don’t actually know and understand it  – for example, if you drive fast you really don’t understand speed limits and why they exist.

If you have read a lot of my blog and heard me speak then you know I believe in the power of promotional articles. Well, the potential power as many have no idea how to use them properly and therefore fail with them.

What’s so good about promotional articles? In other words, why I do keep writing and talking about them, and giving tips on improving them?

Well here are some of the reasons:

  • you only have to write them once and you can get long term traffic to your website – for example, I wrote about chickenpox in 2003 and it is still one of the most popular articles on my site
  • you can build your credibility by showing you truly know your topic and are willing to share some of your knowledge – higher credibility means more trust from potential clients
  • you can get exposure to new opportunities – I have been approached to do media interviews because reporters have googled a topic and found one of my articles
  • using them on your site may mean fewer questions from people – this can save a lot of time from people just after information without ever planning to pay you
  • people will share your article (either giving a copy to a friend, linking to it or including it in a newsletter for instance) in a way that an ad would never be shared
  • it only costs you to produce it – having it on websites and in newsletters is free. Compare that to paying for an ad to be designed and then to place it anywhere…
  • it provides you with website content that search engines will reward you for – again, this equals more traffic

So do you see any value in using promotional articles for your business?

Enough naming but not too much

Have you heard about using keywords to help search engines find you online? And considered that your business and/or product name is a critical keyword to get noticed?

I have often read about including keywords and business names in articles, newsletter and blog posts, and sometimes it even tells you how many times to include such words*.

Instead of some ‘magic’ number of times to use a word, I suggest writing it so the article is interesting and worth reading. Overuse of a keyword becomes obvious as a ploy and the writing then looses some of its credibility as a source of information.

In particular, how often can you mention a company name before someone stops reading it? Continue reading

Unique content

Do you have the time or inclination to read the same information presented the same way over and over?

I’m pretty sure your answer is no – when we want to find something out we don’t want to read the same article we found last week. In itself, that’s enough reason to provide unique content on your website, in your blog and so on.

Unique content that is obviously yours (not just a PLR article copied across, an RSS feed or worst of all plagiarism) shows your knowledge, your generosity in sharing information and helps your search engine results. People will learn to visit your site/blog/newsletter for a fresh perspective on relevant topics; many copied articles and they have no real reason to bookmark you rather than the others posting the same writing.

Private Lable Rights (PLR) articles can be useful for filling a site quickly but they are not truly showcasing you or your business. Some people edit their PLR articles to make them a bit different to others’ versions of the articles, which is useful, but if you are going to so much effort why not just write your own to start with? Or get someone else to write it for you (given the editing time you may be surprised at which is cheaper in the long run).

When you do use PLR articles (edited or not), add something to it. For example, if the article is on travel insurance and you cancelled a holiday last year, add in a story about how travel insurance saved you $1,000. It will personalise the article, build your credibility and offer something new.

Likewise, openly using other people’s articles can be a valuable addition to your own content, but it works best when you introduce it appropriately to make it relevant.

What success have you had with PLR articles? Did you make them ‘yours’ before using them or not?

Recharge your business with promotional articles

I will be presenting the above topic at the Business Mums Conference on 20/21 June in Melbourne. I will be covering ways to help people get the most value out of the promotional articles they write (or pay to get written) as I believe it is a valuable, low cost way to promote any business.

What is a promotional article?

Any useful article can be used as a promotional article, although they tend to be around 300-600 words long. At the end of the article, you include an information section (called a bio box or resource box) about yourself and/or your business.

To be a good promotion for your business, it is best to use topics that build your credibility in your industry. For example, if you are a hairdresser you could use articles about choosing shampoos, the best types of hair accessories and hair care tips, but if you sell children’s party accessories, you would be better using articles about how to plan a birthday party, dealing with invitation lists and party game suggestions.

Note that a promotional article is not an ad. An article about the services you offer or how you are better than a competitor is not a promotional article – it is an ad. The aim of your article is to provide information, and/or entertainment, to readers.

** If you are going to the conference, please come and chat to me – I’ll be there all weekend as I know from experience that is a positive, information pack weekend that will benefit my business.

If you havent bought tickets yet, Save Time Online is offering an advertising bonus if you mention them when booking.