Seasonal Articles and Posts: Ideas for Content

Seasonal Articles and Posts: Ideas for Content

Seasonal articles are, in some areas of the web, regarded as a joke. Fine. All I can tell you is that mine have been successful, so my advice is this. Let the others go evergreen.

. So, what sort of seasonal article could you write in the later part of this year? Here are some suggestions.

Top Five Predictions for 2017

Predictions articles are remarkably easy to write. You look to see what people predicted for the current year – what came true? Next year will be more of the same. Come up with four predictions on that basis, and add one of your own, specific to your own industry. Predictions don’t have to say the world will end (we have enough of those in 2012) you can simply say ‘the market for XYX will continue to grow’  If you can’t think of a lot to say about the predictions, just write more of them.

Predictions articles look forward; it’s usually easier to write the articles that look back. You’ll need to write ‘2016, the year in review‘ which is kind of boring, but one article or post which might prove useful is a Thanksgiving article, write about 5, 7 or 10 ‘Things to Give Thanks for in 2016‘. With the current state of the economy, if you have work, income and a roof over your head, you have lots to be thankful for. You can develop a Thanksgiving article for publication in November and then extend/rewrite it for the end of the year, as ‘Favorite things about 2016’.

This is also a great time for cooks – recipes and hints and tips for easy entertaining will be in demand, as will ideas for decorations.  As always, address your article to the readers pain, most want to save money, effort or time, and quite often all three.  The first paragraph of the article should spell out what the readers is going to learn from reading your article, an why it will be useful. Be clear about who the article is for, and why, for example,

‘Your first Thanksgiving as a Mom can be difficult. Either you have to travel with your new baby, or you have to look after the baby while organizing a family celebration. If the first seems difficult, the second choice can be frightening. Fortunately long distance travel with a baby can be trouble free, as long as you are properly prepared.

Ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas (Holiday) centrepieces also make great posts for this time of year along with ideas for celebration tablescapes of all kinds. Articles on fall and winter seasonal decorating will be of general interest, but why not target those who are selling their homes? Tasteful seasonal decorations can go a long way towards making a home seem appealing and now could be the perfect time to use the spur of  NANOWRIMO to create your own compelling content.

Why should I buy from you and not someone else? The answer should be because what I get from you is better, you go further, your provide more. Bonus content could be the perfect thing to tip the scales in your favor. Create something seasonal and add it as a free gift to your customers for Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or just because of reasons! You’ll find it gives a great boost to your sales. Repeat the process for Spring and for Summer and you may find you have something substantial enough to sell.

Why bother? Because of what I call the author effect.

I worked for years as an IT consultant, but when I published my first book,  things changed. The interview process was entirely different, people came to me, not the other way around, and yes, the fees I could charge increased. Don’t underestimate the power of the author effect, it makes a difference.

So, what are you writing for this time of year?

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Writing Seasonal Content

Writing Seasonal Content

Christmas gifts - seasonal content

Christmas gifts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you want to promote a web store or authority blog. You write, and then you write some more, but should you write evergreen articles as most guru’s suggest, or should you write seasonal content?

There are lots of problems to oversome and one of the biggest is finding stuff to write about so that your content is always  unique and interesting.  There are many experts telling you what to write, and their advice is usually to stick to ‘evergreen’ posts and articles, but is that the best content strategy? A couple of years ago I went on a course run by an internet marketer who made more money in a month than most people I knew did in a year. His secret was seasonal content. With everyone trying to be evergreen, there was a lot less competition. So he cleaned up when it came to Halloween.

Articles and blog posts are like a portfolio of investments. You don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket, so when the experts tell you you should write evergreen articles, things of interest at all times of year, I think that’s equivalent to putting all your investment in a single company. You need to balance your ‘portfolio’ of links, you also need to balance your portfolio of content and learn to write content appropriate to the time of year.

Yes, you need evergreen articles, and blog posts which are useful and interesting at all times. But you need seasonal stuff too, because people are seasonal. Remember the most basic blogging advice. Find out what people want to know. Tell them.

At Christmas, people want to know what to get their friends and relatives for Christmas gifts. Is that useful to a store owner, blogger or affiliate marketer? Of course it is. That’s the main buying season for most products.

People also want information on cooking, entertaining, and decorating their homes. It is well worth spending time and energy on writing articles with the ‘gift’ theme, and make them as specific as possible. Publishers love them around the holiday season, so if you submit these articles to directories, they are very likely to be picked up on blogs across the web. What’s more, they are likely to result in sales.

What do I mean by ‘be specific?

If you own a store, think of all the different types of people who would be delighted to receive one of your products as a gift.  If you sell nightgowns for example, think about all the people who would like to get one, you can write ‘Top Ten Gifts for Moms’, ‘Top Ten Gifts for New Brides’ and mention lots of items, of which your product is only one, or you can be even more specific with an article like ‘Buying Nightwear for Christmas: What Teenagers Really Want’ and discuss the different styles of nightwear (romantic, practical, brief etc.) and how you would choose for the teens, or the Moms, or the newly weds, or the kids, or even the pets in your family.

If your product is something like scrapbook supplies you can write ‘Top Ten Gifts for Scrapbookers’ but could you be more specific? How about ‘Top Scrapbooking Gifts for New Moms?’, or ‘Top Scrapbooking Tools for Grandmas’. Is this cheating? Absolutely not. We all have special requirements. By giving consideration to different types of customers you increase the value of the information you provide. This is not a sales tactic, it’s just common sense. If you want people to buy, they have to understand what’s in it for them.

Take the example above. Scrapbooking gifts for new moms could include every possible way to keep equipment tidy and away from tiny hands and mouths, in fact, I’d go so far as to recommend digital scrapbooking, it’s much easier to tidy away and new moms need every spare second. When it comes to grandmas, tools with a comfortable grip and containers that are easy to open can make a big  difference.

If you’re more into affiliate marketing, then  a ‘gift’ article is ideal, no matter what your area of expertise.  If your blog is about cake decorating – you can build great content around ‘The Best Gifts for Newbie Cake Makers’, ‘The Best Gifts for Expert Cakemakers’ , ‘The Best Cake Making Gifts for Moms’, ‘The Best Cake Making Gifts for Newly-weds’,’ The Best Cake Making Gifts for Dads’ (yes, some Dad’s make cakes, don’t be sexist) and of course ‘The Best Cake Making Gifts for Kids or Teens’.

If your authority or niche site isn’t immediately related to a product, this can be an opportunity to create one to sell or give away in exchange for an email address.   Most families find big holidays a strain, and in the UK January is boom time for divorce lawyers, so anyone in the relationship field will find the season ideal for articles about ‘How to Survive Thanksgiving with the Family’ and ‘Your Guide to Stress Free Holidays’, but why stop at posts or articles? Write an ebook or a series of tutorials in video and email form. Create a checklist designed to help people have a stress free holiday.

Weight Loss sites can add articles about wise choices to help prevent the pounds piling up, and even advise on good gifts to give serial dieters.

While it might seem a bleak time for gardeners, they have a whole new year to prepare for.  If your site is about gardening you can write articles about how to prepare for the new growing season, write about the new plants available for the coming year  and you can write about great gifts for gardeners.

In short, there’s a LOT  of potential for content in this seasonal stuff.

OK, you’ve made it so far, but admit it, you think I’m a bit mad. It’s nowhere near Christmas, and you think I’m just a bit too early with this stuff.

Well, yes.

And no.

While Christmas is the major holiday in the UK and  Europe, in the United States there is a tradition of decorating the home in the Autumn; October means Halloween and November means Thanksgiving. Seasonal content applies at any time of year, and yes, of course, it can be reused. Perhaps not word for word, but you can regard it as a head start. Write an article about planting bulbs in the spring and next year you can update it with new information, but you won’t have to start again, from scratch. I’m writing this at the end of July, in a couple of days it will be August, and we received our first catalogue featuring artificial Christmas Trees two weeks ago. It may seem early to be prepared, but there’s nothing wrong with being ahead of the game.

The thing is, don’t you ever get bored, or just run out of steam with your normal round of posting, commenting and linking?

I know I do. It’s one the reasons I started writing my novel Knightsbane.

And one thing I do to ‘break the cycle’ so to speak, is write something completely different. I was completely fed up yesterday, lots to do, it’s just that I didn’t want to do any of it. So I wrote something different, I wrote an article about the things I’d like most for Christmas, and since, as many of your know, I am something of a fool for flowers, I found myself writing about the best gifts you can give someone who loves flowers, and that made be realize I had done this before. When writing blog posts etc for clients, I often stockpile.

The great thing about writing is that you can build ‘stock’.  I create ‘collections’ in Google Docs and just add to them. If they are posts, I add them to WordPress and schedule them for the future. If they are articles, I keep them ready to submit until the month before I want them to have maximum effect.

So, apart from articles and posts about ideal gifts, what sort of seasonal article will you write? Add ideas as comments please!

 

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How to Write Content Which Will Be Read

Instant Messaging/Chat Acronyms

Instant Messaging/Chat Acronyms (Photo credit: tuchodi)

Does your company have a USP? Do you enjoy SEO? Do you ever take your BFF in your MPV?

Yes, this post is about shortcuts, and some of the most annoying shortcuts we use everyday are TLA’s, three letter acronyms.

Like all jargon, TLA’s are great when the talk is between equal status experts, but bring in someone from the outside, and that’s how they’ll feel, like an outsider. If your store or blog is designed for experts in a particular field (Doctors, for example) then OK, maybe then the jargon is not just excused, but required. Consider this point. In most cases there are far more people learning a subject or thinking of learning, that there are actually doing, and there are far more people who are just beginners than ever become experts.

So, if you want your content to have wide appeal, you have to learn how to write without shortcuts. As always there is an easy way to do this, and that’s simply to look at things from the customers point of view.

There’s a en excellent post on this  by Sean McGinnis which explains why we shouldn’t make assumptions about what clients or potential customers know. If you want them to know something, you may just have to tell them.

Educating the market is often regarded as wrong. I went to a webinar only last week where someone told me that if you had to educate the clients to want the product it was  a dead duck, but I’m not convinced about that. Every day we buy things our parents would never have dreamed of paying money for; bottled water comes immediately to mind, but then bottled water ads don’t sell water, they sell a lifestyle, they sell health and well being.

The secret of writing content which your customers will read remains the same as always. Address their needs, not yours. And be careful how you do it.

If you’re an expert in your field, you almost certainly know what your readers need to know.  In some cases this is great. Your customers also know what they need to know, so by telling them, you are answering their need.

But what if your readers/customers/potential clients don’t know enough about the subject to know what they need to know? Take a look in something like yahoo answers and you’ll see that for any given subject or niche, most of the questions are easy questions, not questions which get to the heart of the subject. I recently wrote some articles about digital scrapbooking for a client. She gets questions like ‘which is the best package to use’ and ‘how do I design a layout for Christmas’ but she knows, after a few years of digital scrapbooking that the thing people really need is to learn how to use Photoshop, and especially how to understand and use layers.  Content on that is invaluable to the subscribers to her membership site, but it’s not what persuades people to join. To do that, she has to answer the simply questions, the questions beginners ask. That’s what convinces them that she knows what they want, and convinces them to sign up.

So many sales letters or pages are filled with information the seller wants to get out there.

  • The covering is non stick
  • The handle is heat resistant
  • The item comes in four colors.

Customers don’t want to know this. They want to know what the non stick covering can do for them, or why a red one is better, or that having a heat resistant handle means they can avoid burning their fingers. Yes, it needs to be spelled out.

My coffee machine is broken, so I’ve been looking at replacements. I’ve read all sorts of stuff about coffee makers but the one thing I really want is something reliable, that won’t break down within  a few months, something which seems to be very common in coffee makers.

Manufacturers could address this, they could tell me that the model xyz has a feature which makes it more reliable, but mostly they just want to tell me that it makes coffee. Thanks guys. I had guessed that.  Frankly I don’t care if your coffee maker is diamond studded, I just want to be convinced that it wont break down, and if it does, that you’ll replace it, quickly, easily and at no cost, because I think it’s reasonable to expect a minimum of two years working life out of something that costs around $200. In fact, having now read all the reviews, and the number of people who have the same problem with their coffee machine as I have, I’m amazed the thing still sells.

OK, personal rant over, but the point is still valid.

When you write content consider who you are writing for and be inclusive. If the readers would use jargon, then you should use it.  If not (and this is more likely) then you shouldn’t.

Forget what you want to say. Forget, to begin with, what the reader needs to know. Find out what the reader wants to know and write that.

 

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Things to Write About: How to Keep Going When You Run Out of Steam

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Image via CrunchBase

If you’ve found yourself running out of steam lately, don’t think you’re alone.

It happens to all of us.

The good news is that it is possible to get things going again, as long as you don’t give up.

I’ve found the key to that is something quite simple; a content plan.

Having a content plan helps me find things to write about on days when I really don’t want to, because usually, coming up with a good subject for an article, blog post and even a  press release, is the hardest part.  A content plan is something you can follow blindly until you find your traffic is building and you get some interaction. At that point you’ll realize there is a real point to what you’re doing. Until you hit the next dead spot.

Yes, sadly there will be another one. What happens is this.

You work at something with great enthusiasm for a while. All goes well.

But there are no instant results, and no sudden lump of cash in the bank.

Your enthusiasm dies. Why are you spending all your time on this stuff.

Around about that time, you get an email. It’s about a new scheme, a new course, a new foolproof method to make millions. It’s new, expensive and very very shiny. You decide to go for it.

It’s not that you’re abandoning what you’ve already done, it’s just that a little way down the road you’ll find you don;t have time to do both properly, and since you’re fed up with the first one, you drop it.

The problem is, in a couple of months, it’s going to happen again.

You’ll hit a low spot. Not much energy, maybe the weather’s getting cold. Your enthusiasm dries up, and the whole cycle starts all over again.

‘Oh well’, you say,’That’s all part of being a a serial entrepreneur.’

Only it’s not.

There are very few short roads to riches. If you want to succeed, one of the most important things you have to learn is how to deal with those low energy times. Was your idea good? If it was good 3, 4 or five months ago, the chances are it is still good now, as long as you stick with it and avoid the new shiny products popping into your mailbox.

So, what can you do?

Create a content plan, and create one as long as you can possibly manage. But as a minimum, lets start with a content plan for a month.

First set a goal for blog posting, at least once, preferably twice a week. Total – 8

Next, a goal for articles – say one per week – Total – 4

Next, tweets, lets say 7 or 8 per day – Total 240

Finding Content For Your Blog

Go to youtube and search, using keywords related to your site. Find 4 videos which, in your optinion, give good advice your readers can benefit from. Don’t choose one where the video is simply plugging a product.

Watch the video, and then write it up as a blog post. Include the video itself at the end. Four Blog posts. Done.

Go to google and look down the left hand side until you see News. Click that and type in your keywords until you find an interesting story. Write a blog post which discusses the story, or maybe just retells it. It’s news, you are allowed to repeat it and to add your own comments. You can also include a link to the main story. Do this twice. Six blog posts done.

Now, do the same sort of thing, but instead of choosing from ‘news’ choose from ‘blogs’. Find someone saying something related to your niche and write about what they’ve said. Do you agree or disagree? Add your ideas and comments and link back to the original site. You can even tie celebrity gossip into your blog. Eight blog posts. Done.

Write these as soon as you can. Posting twice a week doesn’t mean writing twice a week. It means sitting down to have a writing day when you write as much as you possibly can, then add it to your blog scheduled to appear at regular intervals. Be a swan. Make everyone think your life, and you blog is completely under control, while they wade in chaos.

By now, you should be feeling a little better. It’s not so hard this content stuff!

Finding Content For Your Articles

You can post the same thing to an article directory as you do to your blog. So problem solved. However, it is better if you can create original content.

You can use the methods above, or you can create some seasonal content. I’d suggest you do both.

For seasonal content, go to Wikipedia and look at dates, or look at the month. Usually your article will be read most in the month you submit and the following month, so in August, for example, you can plan for things related to September. Pick a date which is in some way connected with your niche. Since I write regularly about flowers, I could talk about the flowers for September, the forget-me-knot, aster and morning glory. If I were writing about jewelry, I could write about September’s birthstone, the Sapphire.  You could write about something serious like 9/11 or about something fun, like International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Then tie it back to your niche.

Four articles, done.

Finding Content For Your Tweets.

At first glance, the number of tweets you need to produce for a month of tweeting looks really difficult. When you start, it is. You need to break down your day.

1 tweet about something personal – a comment about the weather, what you’re eating, reading or doing. Do this live, probably first thing in the morning. All the other tweets can be automated.

2 tweets where you retweet other people who are saying something your followers will find intersting

2 tweets which are essentially 140 character peices of good advice to your followers. Remember to leave room so you can be retweeted.

2 tweets which are inspirational – such as a quotation from someone else. This can be someone in your niche, or just someone funny, or just something about failure – which everyone can relate to!

1 tweet which is a link to one of your articles or posts.

There are many programs which will allow you to submit tweets to happen in the future, my favorites are hootsuite and tweetadder. In tweetadder you can select people you want to retweet and how often to retweet them. You can also set the program to tweet each post as it comes out. Remember to add more tweets about each post as it is unlikely you will gather a lot of readers from a single tweet. If you have something important to tweet there are far more users on Twitter on a  Friday than on other days of the week.

240 Tweets. Done.

So Now What

Now it’s time to grab some more readers and get those traffic figures up. As long as you are building followers on twitter, twitter will help with traffic as will your articles, as long as you’ve included the right sort of resource box.   Go and visit the blogs you have been reading and leave comments on their posts. I’ve found this builds links, but more often than not people see my signature and come to this site just to see what it’s about. A lot come back. Commenting builds traffic and relationships as well as links.

If you get all that done, you will be able to increase the traffic to your site. Once that happens, you should find it easier to stay motivated. Until the next time.

But then, you’ll know what to do.

 

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How To Get People To Read Your Blog

4/50 - Attention Span - iPhone

Image by Mike Rohde via Flickr

Do you enjoy writing?
Most people don’t.
Which means one of the worst things that can happen is that you’ll go to all that effort, doing something you really hate, and then get nothing from it.No readers, no sales, and absolutely no income.

When you write, whether you enjoy it or not, you need to be read.

Anyone can learn to write an article or blog post. But writing an article or blog post people will read and think about isn’t quite so easy. One of the keys is to get your readers attention, and the simplest way to do that, is to make a connection.

You’ve seen this a million times in cheasy adverts.

‘If you sell baby quilts, it can be really difficult to come up with regular blog topics.’

Did that grab you? Probably not. Unless you’re Valentina, the Quilt fairy, who sells wonderful Baby quilts! I’m guessing she’s probably paying close attention, right now.

The truth is, that sentence could mention any type of product at all.

‘If you sell CB radios, it can be really difficult to come up with regular blog topics’

‘If you sell collectible dolls, it can be really difficult to come up with regular blog topics’

‘If you sell garden planters, it can be really difficult to come up with regular blog topics’

EVERYONE thinks it’s difficult to come up with blog topics, (even me if I’ve run out biscuits) By being specific about who you are writing for you begin to build a connection.But the best way to make engage your reader is to explain, as clearly a you can, how your article can take away his (or her) pain. If you can do that in the headline, that’s good. Even so, you should always, always, do it in your first paragraph.
Are you a superhero? Come to Corbins Cape shop where we can supply all your super hero needs!
If I were a superhero (and I couldn’t tell you if I was, secret identities and all that stuff) that sort of commercial might get my attention. But I doubt it’s going to get me in the superhero car searching for the address on my superhero phone.
A better version might be

Are you a superhero? Come to Corbins Cape shop, our fully confidential service will provide for all  your super hero needs!


So, they understand the special needs of superheroes, but wait, maybe they’ve just reminded me how careful I have to be …
Reminding me of the need for confidentiality might just make me so paranoid I wont go to  a store  at all!

Do you hate capes? Guaranteed to keep a superhero safe, our special treatment ensures your cape will never get stuck in a door again.

OK, now I’m interested. Maybe I have to buy a new cape. Maybe I have to have mine treated. Maybe its a simple treatment I can do at home. I don’t know, but I do know that I want to read more and find out.

Avoiding pain is very important.

To grab attention AND make a connection, tell your reader why he or she should read what you have written, and remember you get maximum impact by avoiding pain, not by gaining pleasure.

Most teenagers want beautiful skin. More will read ‘how to avoid pock marks’ than will spend time on ‘how to have smooth skin’.

More gardeners will take the time to read ‘how to avoid greenfly’ than will read ‘New color species to enhance your flower borders.’

Whether your reader’s pain is  acne, obesity or lack of a girl friend, if you indicate you have a solution, you’ll get your readers attention.  If you actually deliver on your promise, you might even gain a fan.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it,  is to approach your next blog post or article in this way.

Before you start writing, think about what your reader needs.

Now construct a very short paragraph which tells her (or him) how you can help her avoid pain and submit your paragraph in the comments.

Here’s an example inspired by my friend Marc who has a very informative personal security blog.

We all feel vulnerable when using an ATM machine, especially late at night, or in an insecure location. By being aware and taking simple precautions you can reduce your risk and stay safe whenever you need to withdraw money in public.
What is your readers pain?
How can you help avoid it?
One short paragraph.
Go.
As to my superhero identity – I’m thinking maybe,  ‘biscuit woman’ ??
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Are You A True Entrepreneur?

Cover of "The Postman [Blu-ray]"

Cover of The Postman [Blu-ray]

I was replying to messages on Twitter today when this headline caught my eye – the Tweet was from our friends at Copyblogger, and since their stuff is always worth a look, I sauntered on over to see what they were saying. The article was ‘How to Keep Kevin Costner from Ruining Your Blog and Business.’ Intrigued? I was. They know a thing or two about how to write eye catching headlines at copyblogger! So I was a bit disappointed when I read the article and found that this wasn’t a learning exercise based on The Untouchables, WaterWorld, Dances with Wolves, or even the weirdly interesting ‘The Postman’.No, this was old, familiar territory. Once again we were back at the Field of Dreams and having a good laugh at those who believe that if you build it, they will come.

Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t just another boring post pointing out that a website, store, or blog is pretty useless unless you find ways of bringing traffic to it, this is an interesting piece about being able to sort the message from the medium. It’s a great post and it’s worth your time to read it more than once, especially if you’ve ever spent more time worrying about whether the site should be blue or green, than about the actual contents …

But of course that would never happen. Actually I am yet to meet someone who worried more about the message than the way it looks, even those I know who produce truly ghastly looking sites, do so quite deliberately.

Does the message matter? Obviously.
Does the medium matter? That’s a no brainer.

But let’s put aside all the talk about ‘following your passion’ and ‘building your dreams’ and take a really hard look at the Internet business – because business is what it is.

How many times, on a forum, or in a webinar, have you heard (or been) the voice that said, ‘but I need to make some money – will I make money if I do this’?

Bu the trouble is, that’s a question no honest person can answer.

Internet business is different from brick and mortar business in many ways.
But there again, it’s not.
The basics are the same.

Start a business

Buy a product or provide a service.

Sell for more than it costs.

Make a profit.

Do it again.

If it doesn’t work, dump it – find something else because there are no guarantees of success.

But what if it does work. What then?
Well oddly enough, the same answer usually applies. You don’t dump it, but you can sell it or find others to run it – but then you go back to the beginning and you do it all again.Owning a business is an investment, and wise investors don’t put all their eggs in one basket, even when it seems to make life a lot easier to do so.Wise investors have a portfolio.
There are very few people making huge incomes from just one business.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t about being a dreamer. Dreamers dream. Entrepreneurs, do.
It’s about learning.
As you work on one project – think about what you’ve learned, what you would do differently, and start making plans for the next.
That way no effort is ever wasted.
Successful entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs.

Remember it was Field of Dreams, plural.

What kind of person has only one dream? Don’t you want to explore them all?

What will your next project be?

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