How To Continue Building Backlinks

We Want to Start Building Backlinks!

How to Continue Building Backlinks

Creating content that has a lasting presence and continuous readership is really the aim of the game. It’s not uncommon in content marketing circles to create content, do some outreach to gain links, then start again with fresh content. This cycle seems exhausting and wasteful. What if there are ways to get better bang for our buck, and get our content working for us long after it has been written? There are ways people. The aim is to create content that will continue to gain links, even when we have forgotten about it. I don’t mean to make this sound easy; it’s not, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. Here are some top tips on growing those backlinks.

A Source of Trust

Creating content that is accurate and educational is an important starting point for the generation of backlinks. If your content  provides unique  industry vitals and statistics, it may become a source of citation for other writers. In the short term, producing such content will take longer but the long-term benefits are clear; people will continue to refer to it. Are you a master in a topic and feel confident that you can write informative content on it? The more specific and rare that your content is, the greater potential there is for links on an external page.  Perhaps even better than just generating a link embedded in anchor text is achieving syndicated content, which can be your full article, snippet or thumbnail (with obvious citation and link back)

So, this is the theory, but how do we put this into practice?

A first port of call might be to do some market research. There may be an area of your field that has little knowledge published around it, or perhaps you feel you can debunk an industry myth that is largely unfounded. You will need to invest time into ensuring accuracy and factual data is extracted from your studies, but the unique content that can be formed from this will be invaluable in your link building quest.

Strategise

Tapping into emerging trends, topics and concepts of interest is pivotal in forecasting what content will work, and continue to work for you. And content that works, is content that gains links. A great way to find out about relatively unknown concepts or topics is to find out what people are asking for. And we can do this by stalking different websites, and reading comments, or visiting threads and examining trending talks. You may find that there is a recurring field that people are asking about, but is still largely uncovered. Are you going to be one of the first sources of accurate information in this field? If so, then get ready for some serious citation and back-linking.

Will I let you in on a little secret? There is an awesome website called www.bloomberry.com which essentially searches the internet for the most asked questions on your topic of choice. The idea is that the user can identify their customers wants and needs through their buying journey. This is one app that I am downloading this weekend.

Beginner Content

Beginner content is always going to gain an audience. The reason is that with everything there comes a learning curve, so while you might be a master in content marketing, someone else might not be. Remember that content marketing for dummies piece you wrote six months back? Share that bad boy again!

Data Points and Lists

Content that is very data driven or contains lists is always very valuable to own. Going back to the citation point I made earlier (which seems to underpin most points in this article) data and list based articles always make excellent points of reference for other website content. Perhaps you  have written the ‘definitive guide of cookie cutters on the market’. Joe Blogs of Joe Blogs Cookie store is discussing cookie cutting techniques in his latest article. Your wee guide may be perfect for him to reference to at this point. Again, creating data heavy content is time consuming but it will work better for you in the long run.

Guest Blogging

Nothing particularly new about guest blogging, but it is still moderately effective. The difficulty is getting your guest post featured on a high-volume platform, where there will be click backs to your website. If you follow the above steps, and write unique, quality content that offers a solution for your reader, then you might be half way there already.

Let us know what you make of this post on link building after the content has been published. Have you found any methods that have been beneficial for your building backlinks goals?

 

Top Ten WordPress Plugins Of 2017

No fluff. No frills. Just the top ten WordPress plugins you need. Right now.

Top Ten WordPress Plugins of 2017

YOAST – FREE

Been there, wrote a blog post about it. But needs to be mentioned again. YOAST is an SEO optimisation plugin, making your job as easy as just carving some killer content. Once you have entered your post into WordPress this nifty little number will analyse the text, and using a traffic light system, will flag your content for readability and SEO. It takes the guesswork out of optimising content, and fills in those gaps that you can sometimes forget. For example, it will highlight if you do not have the keyword anywhere in the meta description.

COMMENTLUV – FREE AND PAID PREMIUM OPTION

This wordpress plugin works by automatically placing a link to your readers last blog post – if they comment on your post. This is excellent as it encourages community spirit, and rewards your reader, whilst also giving you some more visibility around who your audience is. The only downfall I can see is that there may be less substance in comments, if the sole objective of the reader is to get link backs. A way around this is to moderate all comments before they are published to your site.

BJ LAZY LOAD – FREE

If your WordPress site has a lot of imagery, Lazy Load is an excellent plug in to install. It works by replacing your images with a placeholder, and only loads them when the visitor scrolls the page to show them in full view. So, for instance, if you have ten consecutive images, one on top of the other, each will only load when the user scrolls to them. This makes your site heaps faster, which is awesome for the impatient reader.

MAILCHIMP FOR WORDPRESS – FREE AND PAID PREMIUM OPTION

I am a big Mailchimp fan; it is a pain free marketing solution for even the most creatively devoid. Mailchimp for WordPress essentially allows you to increase your subscribers through your blog. It is a very beautiful add on that allows for user friendly sign up forms. Its simplicity is a big draw card, but the volume of subscriptions will be highly contingent on the quality of your blog. It always goes back to content people.

SOCIAL WARFARE – FREE AND PAID PREMIUM OPTION

Social Warfare is THE social sharing plugin. “What makes this better than any other sharing wordpress plugin?”,I hear you say. Pretty much everything about it. It is highly customisable, sexy, and super-fast. You customise where your share buttons appear; in fact, why not chose the floating option that is visible no matter where your reader is on the page? How about the ability to hover over an image and instantly share it to Pinterest? Or an analytics tools to track all inbound links that come in as a direct result of Social Warfare? Sounds like an awesome wordpress plugin to me.

AKISMET – PAID

Not super new in terms of WordPress plugin but an absolute legend nonetheless. Akismet is your software security dude that shields you from spammy comments. It provides you with virtual protection and keeps the bad guys out. You know the type. “You have been selected to win one million dollars, just click here.” Yep, those guys.

SLACK

I am a big advocate for Slack, a team based tool that is more efficient than emailing. Slack is handy for a group of people working within WordPress on a project for instance. Take me as an example; I am part of a team of writers for a new website, and the editor and project manager communicate everything to us through Slack. They are based in San Francisco, and team members like myself are from across the globe. It’s like an instant messenger of sorts, and has the functionality to add sub groups within teams, or even just have one on one conversations. You can also use GIFs which makes the experience even more enjoyable.

WP FORMS – PAID

WP Forms is an online form builder, so that you can easily provide your audience with a way to get in touch. It has a drag and drop functionality so it’s very easy to use, and allows you to include the type of information that you want to know about your client. It has a very responsive design, so the user can access it on their mobile device tablet of laptop. There is even a payment collection functionality if you are in the e-commerce realm, incorporating PayPal and Stripe.

UPFRONT – PAID

Upfront is a great plugin for WordPress sites in need of a visual refresh. Upfront enables you to create beautiful gallery layouts, re-arrange social buttons; in fact, it really gives you the ability to shake up your whole site. This is a great tool that gives you a unique creative edge, and allows you to separate your WordPress site from the rest of the herd.

BROKEN LINK CHECKER – FREE

A bit of a dull one to finish on, but it has its place in the wordpress plugin top ten. Broken Link Checker does what is says, by keeping tabs on 404 pages. You will then receive an email from the plugin, advising you to fix the link. It is really the housekeeping plugin of this list, but good housekeeping is the foundation of a great website.

What do you think of this handy little wordpress plugin list? Are there any that we missed, and that you can’t live without? Drop us a comment.

 

Building a Marketing Strategy For Your Small Business

It doesn’t matter if your business is exclusively online or has a physical presence; once you have a website, this marketing strategy is workable for you. Most business owners are not marketing extraordinaire’s, so it can be daunting to attempt to navigate the digital marketing world without the smarts. There is an abundance of help available in the form of experts, but it will cost you. If, like most small businesses the  budget is tight, try this workable marketing strategy and let us know how you get on!

Building a marketing strategy for your small business

Brand

Branding is something that a company might think that it has, but perhaps it doesn’t necessarily translate to the customer. Having a business name and logo doesn’t automatically qualify as branding; an effective brand must speak on a unique level to the client.

Effective branding has staying power; take the example of Coca Cola. Their brand is heavily aligned with family, friends and happy occasions. In fact, this ethos has carried into their slogan of “Open Happiness”. Sure, Coca Cola rots teeth and can contribute to obesity, yet I still align the brand with positive feelings. In saying this, how do you go about creating a strong brand, and the customer awareness that comes with it.?Here are a few steps.

Background

Examine your business background, and the reasons why you decided to start. It may be down to sheer passion for your industry, or an ambition rooted in closing a market gap.  Nutting out the origins of your business, gives a good foundation on which to build your brand.

Customers

Have a chat with your customers and try to ascertain their reasons for liking/not liking your business. A less confrontational way to do this market research may be through a survey, easily created in Survey Monkey.

Competition

Examine your competition. What do you identify as their strengths and weaknesses? How do you differentiate your offering from theirs?

Now that you have examined your background, customers and competition, it should be easier to create your brand. I will roll with a cookie store example to demonstrate the implementation of a strong brand.

Cookie Store Example

When I did some thinking about why I started my cookie company, my reasons were very strongly aligned with my interest in baking. My customers said that whilst they loved my bespoke, unique choice of cookies, they sometimes found it frustrating that I ran out of flavours. When I looked at my competition in the area, I noticed that the other cookie companies were mass producers, and offered the standard variety of flavours.

On reflection of all of this, I decided to create a brand based around the idea of luxury, and thus rarity. My cookies are so decadent, that they are highly sought after (putting a positive spin on my customer frustrations until I can afford to hire a staff member to help bake more!) I have built my brand into my website, highlighting the low supply and high demand. I am therefore able to price myself a little higher than my competitors, and there is an elusive quality about my product as it is not mass produced. People need to have my cookies, as they are hard to come by.

DISCLAIMER

I do not own a cookie company; this is just an example. But if you know anyone that does own such a business, please send me their way! Self-confessed cookie monster right here!

Content

Now that you have created your brand, it is time to wrap that into your content. But first, it’s time for a content audit. An audit of content requires thorough examination of each page on your website and an analysis of what works and what doesn’t. It amazes me how often I stumble across a website that doesn’t clearly outline what it offers. Lack of pricing, product information and the fundamental purpose for the website can be very frustrating for a visitor. That’s why an audit is important. If you are using convoluted language, this can be a pain point.

B2B Content

Whether you are a B2C or a B2B, people generally respond better to easy to follow conversational English. There is something of a myth that exists in the B2B world. It is that selling to business involves using complex technical language, with a healthy dose of corporate clichés thrown in; bandwidth anyone? The reality is that business people are normal people too, so make sure your website content speaks to the average person.

Overarching Marketing Strategy

OK so lets assume that you have your brand sorted, and your content is awesome. You will now need to probably think about having an overarching marketing strategy;  a strategy that is ongoing. There are a myriad of options, and I really advise you to only focus on one or two to start with, and do these right. Some of these strategies are –

  • Social Media
  • Pay Per Click
  • Paid Advertising
  • Email Marketing
  • Local Engagement
  • Partner Links

I won’t go into each of these on an individual basis, but I will choose Local Engagement to discuss in more depth. This is an interesting one, as the idea is that by engaging locally offline, you can build your online awareness. The simplicity of this is beautiful. It is so easy to get caught up in the digital world, and forget that there are real people at the end of our transactions. By networking and engaging with business and customers locally, you can do incredible things for your business. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.

Most of my business success has come from word of mouth between my customers, and my confidence in shouting my business offerings from the rooftops. I have never been shy to ask people to spread a good word about me if they were happy with my service. Similarly, I use any engagement where possible to promote myself and my content writing business.

Fin

Confidently marketing yourself as the best there is in the business can be incredible for boosting client numbers. People are attracted to confidence, and it shows a competence that customers need if they are going to part with their hard-earned cash.

So, there you have it; a simple marketing strategy for the small business owner. What do you think of this? Do you believe that you can use this model, or are you currently implementing similar marketing strategies?

SEO And Keywords – A Simple Model

I make a living (part time) from copy-writing. I have recently only been able to say those words aloud, due to a lack of confidence in my abilities. This was largely due to my absence of any professional copy-writing training or formal digital marketing studies. Having said that, I have managed to build up a small client base through very hard work, and an underpinning passion for content creation. It is only now, after positive feedback and client recommendations, that I can confidently categorize myself as a copywriter. I have decided to write a three-part series about the fundamental components of creating good copy; straight from a self-made writer’s mouth! Everything I have learned has been through research and practice; with the aid of the trusty internet! First part up is my take on a simple yet effective approach to SEO and more specifically the keyword.

SEO and Keywords - A Simple Model

SEO – A simple model

When I first began to write professionally, I really struggled with SEO. Mainly because I just loved to write engaging copy, and SEO felt so technical and left field for me. I learned quickly however, that to be successful in the copy-writing industry, I needed to learn about SEO. This blog isn’t going to explain what SEO is all about; if that’s what you are after click here. This piece is more concerned with providing you with a nice SEO framework that you can implement before you write your content.

Keyword Research

The first step in a good SEO model is to do some keyword research and compile a list of keywords that you think may be relevant to your content. An excel spreadsheet makes a very good visual tool for this exercise. You can sort into categories depending on the strengths and weaknesses of each keyword and eliminate from there. Once you have your broad keyword terms, you will now need to get a bit more specific. For instance, you might have a cookie making company. If you focus all your energies on the keyword cookie, you are very likely to be fighting a losing battle. The term is simply too expansive to gain much user traction, so you really need to nut out more targeted keywords. Perhaps your cookie company produces a “vegan cookie”; this might have a more increased result in page hits, as it is very niche. Of course, working out these medium keywords, (keywords that are less generalised than say a singular keyword like “cookie”,” yet not too specific like a long tail “award winning chocolate chip cookie”) really comes down to knowing what your visitor wants. This takes me to the next part of your SEO model.

User Intent

User intent refers to those reasons that your user has stopped by for a visit. Keeping with the cookie business model, it is safe to assume that your visitor is seeking cookies, right? Wrong. Well sort of. Yes, in a broad sense they are after the sweet stuff, but what is it that they are after? Maybe its corporate offerings, personalised cookies, delivery options, or a location address. They might have heard that you do an awesome cookie cake and are seeking the specifics on this godly dessert. Once you have worked out the content that the user is after (and again, there is no easy way to do this, save for research, research and more research), you are better able to craft your sub categories of keywords.

Your Intent

So, we have examined our web user’s needs, and now we need to look at our own. A cookie business will have a very strong objective to sell, so building your content to drive sales will be an obvious one. But it’s not all going to be about sales; you are likely to have other objectives, such as building your newsletter email list, increasing brand awareness or even recruiting new staff. So, on a broad spectrum, yes, your starting point for SEO will be your simple word “cookie”, but you will start to umbrella different terms and phrases from this word. And cookie leads me on nicely to the next point of discussion in our simple SEO methodology, which is breadcrumbs!

Breadcrumbs

I’l start with an example – cookie -> chocolate chip cookies ->best chocolate chip cookies in Sydney

Here is a simple overview of our broad word, medium keywords and then a long tail phrase. The idea is that this breadcrumb approach starts with the generalised phrase keyword, but then feeds off into these little subsections. You might for example have a very broad company overview, which tells the story of your cookies, but perhaps you link to another page which talks about your chocolate chip variety, and other page that recognises your award for the best choc chip cookie in Sydney. Importantly, this model is successful in driving traffic, as you are targeting those who search generally and those who are very specific in what they are seeking. Each page will have internal link to another, thus increasing page hits. Most notable though, is Google loves this breadcrumb model as it is very easy for the little creepy crawlers to sort and rank the pages.

Build Content

So now that the technical part is out of the way, you can start to do what you love which is to promote your business, and drive sales or awareness through great content creation. The SEO model helps to better structure your content, and keeps you on topic. As I always advise, do not stuff your content with keywords to the point that it makes no sense. But if you can use multiple key words or phrases in a single block of content, and it feels organic and adds value to your user, then go for it! At the end of the day, content is king, and SEO compliments it, but shouldn’t dominate.

Is this SEO model workable for you? I would love to hear your opinions! Next week I am going to discuss how I have built a (semi) successful copy-writing portfolio and client base, while working full time. Budding writers, you won’t want to miss this one.

10 Tasty Tips For Hitting The Blogging Nail On The Head

This piece is a snappy round-up of some of the hottest tips you need to carve out a beautiful blog. And beauty brings in the babes, right? Here are our top ten for hitting the blogging nail on the head:

10 Tasty Tips For Hitting the blogging nail on the head

Title

An awesome eye-catching title is an absolute must have. Don’t scrimp your time on this part; after all it is the title that draws an audience. In fairness, sometimes an awesome heading doesn’t come until the content has been created, so this perhaps should have been tip number ten instead one. Anyhow.

Image

Visual aids are everything in blog land. When blogs first started to make waves, WordPress was awash with amateur pages of content blocks; big chunks of alphabet soup, with little to no distraction in the form of a pretty picture. Text and too much of it is very off-putting so break it up with some relevant images. Most importantly, make sure that you alt tag them (the seo post checklist does automatically creates image alt tags on upload btw).

Subscribe

Is there an option for your reader to subscribe? This is very handy. You want return on your blogging investment, and reader emails are worth their weight in gold. A subscriber to your blog will always know when your next post is up, and you can start to make direct contact with them through email, which may be very useful at some stage.

Social Networks

Display your social sharing buttons somewhere very visible; somewhere at the top or side of the blog piece is usually effective. It’s no harm to prompt your reader every now and again to share your blog; see how having their email might be handy?!

Call to Action

If you are blogging for business or commercial interest, make sure to have very well placed call to action buttons. Examples may be a ‘Call Now’ button (for your cellular audience) or a ‘Contact Us’ tab that leads to an enquiry form page.

Consistency

This tip is relevant on a couple of levels. Obviously, there is consistency with posting, so this means to post regularly and without surprise (sometimes people don’t like surprises!). Consistency is also relevant here, with regards to your tone and style. For most natural writers, this is not too difficult. If, however writing does not come easily to you, you may find it difficult to develop your voice on the page. While blogging does not have to be a Shakespearean masterpiece, there is some writing technicality involved. There is no shame in taking a blog writing course to help develop some new skills.

Grammar

Need I say more? Punctuation can be chucked in here too. If in doubt, jump onto grammarly.com.

Educate Yourself

Every now and again, write about something you have no idea about. Not like unicorns or leprechauns, but pick something within your blogging topic field that is not your specialist area. For example, as a blogger that writes about blogging, I am quite familiar with the topic in the written sense. I don’t know much about blogging via pod-casting however. By studying the topic and writing about it, I would not only educate myself but I would also expand my knowledge for the audience. This would obviously be mutually beneficial and yep I might just learn about podcasts! Who knew blogging could be so much fun?!

Invite Interaction

It is always advisable to invite some audience engagement. You may choose to pose a question, or invite the reader to provide feedback. This little gesture shows the audience there is someone on the other side, and it just gives it that added depth.

Have Fun

This is the fluffy tip. It is important to enjoy blogging. If you have no interest in writing about your topic, this can easily shine through on the blog. If you feel that you are getting a little stale, why not invite a guest blogger to take the heat off you for a few weeks. Alternatively refer to tip eight and educate yourself in new topics – Fresh fodder equals fresh blogger!

Have you any tips that you think we have missed out on? What ingredients are included in your perfect blog recipe?  Drop us a comment – We would love to hear your feedback!

Blogging And Social Media – A 360 Approach

Do you know that there is now an accredited social media course being delivered in Australia? This is a picture-perfect example of the incredible shift there has been around the validity of social media as an educational field of its own. While this marketing medium is nothing new to the average business owner, the fact that there is now theoretical material behind it might be. With that in mind, this blog is focusing on the cohesion of blogging and social sharing, and how to effectively implement and use both in unison. Blogging social media, here we come!

Blogging and Social Media - A 360 Approach

Do you have a social media platform?

I hope this is a silly question. If it’s not, then get your butt on to Facebook quick smart. There is probably only a handful of offenders here but nevertheless it needs to be mentioned. Have your Facebook account? Great. Post regularly? Hopefully. First thing you should invest time in is your Facebook housekeeping. Presumably you are utilising the platform to compliment your website. If so, have you ensured that you are using all the features available and relevant to you? Here is a little check-list:

  • Call to action button
  • Website link
  • Phone number/Address if applicable
  • Reviews – Again will depend
  • Images!
  • Automated message for enquiries

Post

Promoting your blog through social media is pretty much THE way to drive traffic; unless you are an Instagram star or influencer, the blogging audience are not likely to be randomly stumbling across your website. Anytime you post to your website, make sure that you share to your Facebook. Then jump to your Facebook and tease your audience with a sample of the post; but just a little taster. Think of something that the reader simply must click; I don’t want to say click bait but you catch my drift. Similarly ensure that you always invite your web readers to follow you on Facebook.

Neutralism

While you may have a very particular voice on your blog, which can border on opinionated, Facebook and other social media platforms are not always the best place to be yourself. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a degree of superficiality is required. Facebook for instance is a casual virtual hangout; a place to chill with your squad and draw in new readers. However, it is also a war zone in terms of vitriol, trolling and other internet new age nuances. People like to argue on Facebook, and I must admit I love to read a good virtual scrap while its occurring. As a blogger, however, you need to thread carefully. Your topics may be offensive to some people because let’s face it, lots of people love being offended. And while controversy can to a degree be an excellent boost to your blogging profile, it is also morally desirable to present yourself well on social media. Try to stay out of political, religious and any other controversial debates; too many bloggers have been burned by expressing their true selves; a sad but very truth.

Given this article is centred around social media and blogging working in symbiosis, you can now see why a bad reputation one platform could potentially damage the reputation of your website, be it personal or business.

Reach

If your business is not limited by borders in terms of locality it can trade with, then social media gives access to a massive global reach. In the same way, bloggers for personal or business gain, can tap into their audience in a massive way. The world of advertising is forever changed with the emergence of social media, and as a business or personal blogger, you better be taking a piece of the marketing cake while it is going cheap. While it is awesome to be able to connect with people on social media and draw them towards your blog, you need to make sure that your content and website alike are awesome. Don’t disappoint your followers by leading them on false pretences.

Lazy Cheat

Facebook, Instagram and the all-powerful Snapchat work wonders in times of laziness. You might be lagging in terms of your blog content, but if you can’t post something to your social media accounts, even if it’s a picture, you are still winning. It is a form of engagement, and keeps your blog followers secure in the knowledge that you are still alive. Even if you are a sloth version of your former self.

I hope that these tips give you some insight into why blogging and social media are just a couple of cosy peas in a pod.

Let me know your thoughts!

Content Creation Trend Predictions For 2017

What a time to be alive and in the content marketing industry! It is absolutely exploding in popularity now, and sees no signs of slowing down. With that in mind, I have decided to look to the predictions for trends in the industry this year. Believe me, if content creation is your thing, you need to read this. Let’s go, trend predictions 2017!

Content Creation Trend Predictions for 2017

Emails have experienced a resurgence in popularity of late. While I am not sure they ever lost their favour, the consensus was that people were digesting information through different mediums. The expert people at Radicati Group are predicting exponential growth in the number of email accounts created by the year 2019. These guys reckon there will be over 5.5 billion accounts in the world by then. With such mind-blowing figures to contend with, it seems apt to start with this; the first big trend of 2017 – Newsletters.

Newsletters

Newsletters are fantastic for so many reasons. You can knock directly on your customer’s virtual door and enter with some marketing treats. You no longer need to rely on good faith that they will visit your website to read your latest news or blog. With newsletters, you can give lots of little tasters to tantalise your customer, and lead them to where they need to be; website, shop, or straight to the online checkout. It is a subtle yet slightly in your face marketing approach and most people welcome it. Newsletters are also incredibly cheap to create, if not in some instances completely free.

I particularly love Mail Chimp as it is very user friendly and cost effective. Like website builders of late, newsletter platforms are generally marketed to the masses; those that are not tech savvy. It is no longer a requirement to be a qualified graphic designer to create something worth sending out. If you are not sending out a newsletter yet, now is the time to start. Believe me, it is going to be the talk of this year.

Mobile Friendly

In the last couple of years, the focus has been around ensuring websites are compatible for mobile devices. This year, mobile friendly will be the primary focal point in web creation, with desktop compatibility coming second. Most people are accessing information from a mobile device, in fact over two thirds. Site capability and performance are resting on the shoulders of mobile friendliness so get cracking on making that website phone ready. Conduct a little test on your site by accessing each page through your phone and rating its usability. Most web development sites make mobile accessibility simple to set up. It’s the veteran sites that are more of a worry; those guys that have been around for a while and have not made many technological advances in the last couple of years.

Engaging on a Deeper Level

Too many content writers are only scratching the surface when they create copy. People are getting fed up with reading the same stuff, so make sure 2017 is the year that you dive deeper into the rabbit hole. Consumers are looking for more depth and marketeers are starting to answer their calls. Content creators will start to become masters in their field, as they strive to separate themselves from the herd.

Strategic Content

Blogging and content creation in the past has been for no other purpose than to be on the same playing field as the others that were doing it. This year will see marketeers and business owners create content more strategically and each piece will have a specific purpose. Often that purpose is placing the reader somewhere in the sales funnel.

Expertise

People are realising that quality far exceeds quantity and this year we will start to see a shift away from content mills. Businesses will enlist the help of expert writers (hey guys, I’m over here!) who care about what they write and who they write for. This allegiance between writer and business owner will forge a more streamlined content foundation, which helps with creating a loyal following. Bye bye one cents a word writers.

Audio Visual

I have mentioned these guys time and time again; videos and podcasts. Content is changing constantly and 2017 will continue to see a rise in podcasts and video streaming as alternative methods to content marketing. Unlucky for me, these methods are still incredibly scary and untouched. So, while people will be getting busy with their camera and tape recorder this year, I will be watching YouTube tutorials on how to use said camera and tape recorder.

What do you guys think? What are your hot predictions for content creation this year? Let me know!

Blog Batching – The Way Forward

The New Year is well and truly upon us; in fact, 2017 is such old news that I feel like I should be making my 2018 resolutions. Better late than never as they say, so this year I have decided to digress from the norm. I will not make promises to go to the gym more or to stop eating donuts (easy achievements, I just don’t feel like it guys). Nope, this year I am going to focus on my blogging productivity. As a part time HR Officer, and some time freelancer, I find it a constant battle between prioritising where it is that my focuses lie. I am in love with writing; it is my life’s calling card, but I also have bills to pay.

Blog Batching - The Way Forward

Long days in the office are a necessary evil at times, so I often come home withered, uninspired and not in the mood to write. I have found myself drowning with work, and feel like I let down my precious clients when I miss deadlines. I realised that I needed to come up with a solution to my blogging fails, and I needed to come up with it quick. This epiphany led me to batching. And batching, I think is the way forward.

What is batching?

Batching is arranging things in sets or groups. Within a blogging context, it refers to writing content in bulk. Goodbye Wednesday twilight’s when I type vigorously at midnight, all the while slurping on an extra-large glass of red. It’s to keep me focused people. And sayonara 6am starts when I try to knock out an overdue blog post before heading into the office. I have decided to move forward with batch blogging, which will see me spend a Sunday knocking out back to back posts. I am going to be 3 steps ahead of the game.  If you need any more reasons why batching is the answer, I have decided to tell you right here.

Creative streak

I am not alone fellow writers; as much as we love our craft, sometimes it is hard to get the creative juices flowing. I am prone to avoidance tactics. If the ideas are not smacking me in the face, I am likely to turn off the laptop and watch re-runs of Friends. However, I notice that when I am on writing form, the inspirational tap is trickling and it doesn’t stop. So why have I been stopping writing after one post? Ridiculous, right?! Sitting at a computer, with some meditative music is really soothing and generally once we writers get going, we can keep going. So, grab that time by the horns and really make use of it! You will appreciate that glass of wine even more when you can have it knowing how much work you have knocked out.

Time Saver

Batching is an efficient way of working. The point above regarding creativeness adds to this as obviously writing comes thick and fast once the ideas are there. Aside from the actual content, sourcing of images can be a time-consuming process, particularly if you are doing this on a blog by blog basis. Organising your images ahead of schedule can give you back more time to do other things.

Stress Reducer

I think I touched on this when I mentioned those manic midweeks trying to write while slightly inebriated. Being behind on schedule is just plain stressful. While the idea of sitting down for hours to write can be scary, you will be so pleased when you are ahead of your writing calendar. More importantly if you are writing for clients, they are going to be happy too, and will feel reassured that their content is in good hands.

Shift in Focus

By writing several blog posts in advance, you are essentially freeing up time that can be spent on new projects. When I set out to be a writer my big picture dream was to write a book. I am nowhere near achieving that; in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I read a book. I have gotten so caught up in playing client catch up, that I have lost sight of what I want to achieve. I want to continue to write and grow in the blogging sphere, and I want to continue to work with the fantastic people that I get to write for. However, I  also want to knock that book out. So, by batching blogs, I  can free up a day and get lost in creativity. Or maybe just start with reading a book.

Foundation Posts

When  I speak of Foundation Posts, I mean those sort of evergreen ones, the posts that are relevant no matter what time of year it is. I am sure people will argue that batching can’t work in a fast-paced world, but there is always content that has some timelessness about it. Have a think about what blogs you can create in bulk that will slot in during the year, and utilise that extra time you now have to write about the juicy new findings in-between.

I hope that this has given you some food for thought and I would love for your feedback on blog batching! Has it worked for you?

Using Grunt To Minify JavaScript In WordPress

In this tutorial we’ll look at how to minify JavaScript using the command line tool Grunt. More specifically, we will look at how to take the JS files in a WordPress plugin and minify them. There are a couple of benefits to doing this: Decreasing client (browser) bandwidth usage and  also add a touch of security (IP protection) to our JS code (obfuscating it). The downside is of course that by minifying (and obfuscating) our JS files, they become virtually unreadable for the user. However, this usually does not matter (unless your user base is a bunch of web-savvy developers who may need to debug your code!) and is usually a desirable outcome.

How to Minify JavaScript using Grunt

Getting Started: Install Node Package Manager (npm)

Let’s get the ball rolling by installing grunt. Grunt requires node.js, so we need to check node (and the package manager npm) is installed:
Check NPM package is installed
If you don’t have npm & node, you will need install them (installing node should install npm automatically):

sudo apt-get install node

After installing, run “npm -v” again to make sure it installed OK (mine is npm 1.3.10, running PHP 5.6). To check ‘node’ itself installed, type “man node” to bring up man pages for this command.

Install Grunt

Install grunt CLI globally

First, install the grunt command line interface (CLI) to be available globally. This will allow grunt commands to be run from any directory:

sudo  npm install -g grunt-cli

Install Grunt Task Runner (locally)

The Grunt task runner is installed on a per-project basis: each project has it installed locally.

Inside your project root folder (same folder as wp-config.php file), create file package.json and it’s contents outlined below. Replace ‘my-project-name’ with your project (note: must be a no-spaces string). The devDependencies define the libraries required by grunt to complete the tasks we will be specifying shortly in another file (the Gruntfile.js).

package.json:

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{
    "name": "my-project-name",
    "version": "0.0.1",
    "devDependencies": {
        "grunt": "~0.4.2",
        "grunt-contrib-jshint": "~0.6.3",
        "grunt-contrib-uglify": "~0.2.2"
    }
}
{
    "name": "my-project-name",
    "version": "0.0.1",
    "devDependencies": {
        "grunt": "~0.4.2",
        "grunt-contrib-jshint": "~0.6.3",
        "grunt-contrib-uglify": "~0.2.2"
    }
}

In the shell command line, navigate to your root folder (folder containing package.json) and install the grunt task runner by executing command:

sudo npm install

Grunt should now be installed locally (the folder ‘node_modules’ is automatically created).

Using Grunt

Test Gruntfile.js

Now that we have the grunt task runner tool installed, it’s time to configure our local project and give it a whirl.

As previously mentioned, we need a Gruntfile.js file to configure our grunt tasks. Let’s do a very simple test by creating a super simple Gruntfile.js (in same root folder as package.json) as follows:

Gruntfile.js

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module.exports = function(grunt) { //The wrapper function
 
 // Project configuration & task configuration
 grunt.initConfig({
      pkg: grunt.file.readJSON('package.json'),      
  });
 
  //Creating a custom task
  grunt.registerTask('test', function () {
      grunt.log.write('Testing works!');
  });
};
module.exports = function(grunt) { //The wrapper function

 // Project configuration & task configuration
 grunt.initConfig({
      pkg: grunt.file.readJSON('package.json'),      
  });

  //Creating a custom task
  grunt.registerTask('test', function () {
      grunt.log.write('Testing works!');
  });
};

Running command ‘grunt test’ shows our grunt task runner is working as expected. Too easy.

Test Grunt.js Works

Minify JavaScript

Now we know our Gruntfile.js works OK, let’s move on to more exciting things – minifying some JavaScript!

New Gruntfile.js:

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module.exports = function (grunt) { //The wrapper function
// Project configuration & task configuration
    grunt.initConfig({
        pkg: grunt.file.readJSON('package.json'),
 
        uglify: {
            options: {
                banner: '/*! <%= pkg.name %> <%= grunt.template.today("dd-mm-yyyy") %> */\n'
            },
            dist: {
// more info on src/dest config here:
// https://github.com/gruntjs/grunt-contrib-uglify/issues/23
// files{ dest1: source1, dest2: source2} ...
                files: {
                    'wp-content/plugins/twoggle-seo-post-checklist-pro/admin/js/twspc-post-edit.min.js':
                            'wp-content/plugins/twoggle-seo-post-checklist-pro/admin/js/twspc-post-edit.js'
                }
            }
        }
    });
 
// load task libs
    grunt.loadNpmTasks('grunt-contrib-uglify');
 
// Creating a custom task: Run with 'grunt test'
    grunt.registerTask('test', function () {
        grunt.log.write('Testing works!');
    });
 
// Default task: Run with just 'grunt'
    grunt.registerTask('default', ['uglify']);
};
module.exports = function (grunt) { //The wrapper function
// Project configuration & task configuration
    grunt.initConfig({
        pkg: grunt.file.readJSON('package.json'),

        uglify: {
            options: {
                banner: '/*! <%= pkg.name %> <%= grunt.template.today("dd-mm-yyyy") %> */\n'
            },
            dist: {
// more info on src/dest config here:
// https://github.com/gruntjs/grunt-contrib-uglify/issues/23
// files{ dest1: source1, dest2: source2} ...
                files: {
                    'wp-content/plugins/twoggle-seo-post-checklist-pro/admin/js/twspc-post-edit.min.js':
                            'wp-content/plugins/twoggle-seo-post-checklist-pro/admin/js/twspc-post-edit.js'
                }
            }
        }
    });

// load task libs
    grunt.loadNpmTasks('grunt-contrib-uglify');

// Creating a custom task: Run with 'grunt test'
    grunt.registerTask('test', function () {
        grunt.log.write('Testing works!');
    });

// Default task: Run with just 'grunt'
    grunt.registerTask('default', ['uglify']);
};

Note that the ‘dist’ sub-task underneath ‘uglify’ is just a random task name you use, the name does not matter. The banner option gives us a timestamp at the top of our generated files.

Now running command ‘grunt’ does the minify-zation of my JavaScript successfully:

Using Grunt To Minify JavaScript in WordPress

Grunt forth and be happy

We have learnt how to use the Grunt Task runner tool to minify JS in our WordPress (or any PHP) projects. Grunt can actually achieve many more things (file concatenation, CSS compilation using SASS/LESS, run command line statements such as git pull, etc). For further information, see more Grunt examples.

We’d love to hear how you use Grunt in your own projects?

Beat The Blogging Block

The cursed writers block. It can pounce at any time, quite usually at the worst time such as deadline day. If, like me, you are a regular blog contributor you know what I mean. Another issue that can be sometimes faced as a writer is a feeling of stagnation in subject matter. It is no secret that content has been written on the same topic numerous times, so how is your piece offering any more value than the next? Well my friends, I have come up with a few ways to beat the blogging block and overcome the writing decay. Most of the tips are related to preparation, so you don’t find yourself in the same boat as I am today. Staring at a blank screen. Making endless cups of tea.

Beat the Blogging Block

Notes

It is a handy idea to have a little notepad on your person at all times, to quite literally jot down any ideas or inspirations. It may sound a little twee but it is very effective. Only recently did I discover the value of this. While on holidays I came up with a super blog idea. I like to think the fresh coconut and Balinese background melodies were inspirational necessities. Que to when I got home and back to my laptop – and couldn’t remember what my idea was. Why didn’t I have the damn notepad right?! Notes on a mobile phone work equally well for this; I just happen to be a little old fashioned.

References

Sometimes we are not beacons of knowledge and don’t dream up wonderful content ideas. Sometimes we (me!) harness the academia of someone else’s piece and mould it into our own. Examples of this include utilising newspaper articles, educational literature or a contributor’s opinion piece. It is all well and good to take inspiration from other sources for your own content creation, but if you can’t remember the sources or what they were about, it’s pointless.

This is where I call in the help of my old friend Evernote. You might remember Evernote from previous blog posts; yep I am slightly in love with the organisational software tool. It gives the user the ability, among many other functions, to save snippets from the internet and photographs for reference later. Very useful indeed. Especially in a circumstance where you spy some worthy content that is not necessarily at your immediate fingertips; the bloke on the bus with the eye-catching headline on his newspaper. You know where this goes and it involves a camera phone and some stealth. Bye bye blogging block ; hello stolen ideas from cute bloke on trains newspaper.

Rebirth

OK kind of weird heading. What I am referring to is my above point that mentions a sense of decay in one’s work. Particularly when the topic has been done so many times before. An example that is apt today is the subject of strength training. It can feel wasteful to create an article on the topic, particularly if your findings or opinion are not so different from other contributors to the topic. This is where you need to flip your thinking on its side and approach the topic from another angle. Everyone is writing about how awesome strength training is in general, so you could write about how awesome strength training is for women in their fifties.

I guess what I am saying is to own your subject more and master its intricacies. Rather than skim the surface like many others do, get your hands dirty and dig a little deeper. Not only is this a great way of re-hashing old content in times of writer’s block, but it also gives you permission to grow your knowledge base and become the expert in the field. This only strengthens your content, and therefore your audience base.

Improvise

This is for those who are past the point of no return. Writers block has set in so deeply, that there are scratch marks on the monitor and the kettle has exploded from over use. It is also suitable for those with talents other than writing. Blogging does not always have to consist of the written word! If you simply cannot muster up the grammar to express yourself, why not get handy with a camera and create a podcast. Maybe even create an infographic; hell, even some clip art! Our brains are so spectacularly designed that if one creative function is on the go slow, the others are often heightened. Improvising may help you to get your groove back Stella.

To conclude, its January and I am clearly writing about my reality right now. How beautiful is blogging though? I have written a blog about how to overcome blogging block, thus solving my own problem! Hope this helps you guys too. Most importantly, I would love to hear your ideas on keeping your content ideas bank bright and bushy tailed. Please let us know!

Next week’s post – I clearly don’t know yet. #bloggingblock