Author Archives: earnestalderman

5 Common Writing Clichés to Avoid for Better Content Marketing

blogging clichesEvery piece of content we produce as marketers makes an implicit promise to our audience. From beginning to end, each asset that is researched, created and published should be interesting, relevant, help solve a current pain point. The content will be informative, easy to read and provide value.

We must honor that promise to hold the reader’s attention and provide them with useful information. As Copyblogger founder Brian Clark says, “A great headline mixed with a lame opening is like inviting someone into your house, only to slam the door in their face as they approach.” Once you slam the door in a reader’s face, they’re not going to accept future invitations.

Our goal should be to create content that holds the door open, invites the reader in, and serves them tea and cakes. They should be better off because of the time they entrusted to us. We must be ever vigilant against bland, empty, awkward or confusing writing. Avoiding the following clichés can help your content make good on its promise to be worth the reader’s time.

#1 – The 30,000 Foot Introduction

In high school, well-meaning teachers told us introductions should start wide and then narrow down to our topic. So we went all the way up to 30,000 feet to get the big, really big picture. We wrote, “Waste disposal has historically been a huge problem in the world, and it continues to this day.” Or, “Most scientists agree that electricity is important.” Sometimes, years later, it can be difficult to shake the urge to start with a bird’s-eye view.

Why It’s Less Effective: 30,000 Foot introductions are so broad that they fail to introduce the reader to your specific topic. They also tend to be full of information the reader already knows, which is less likely to inspire them to keep reading.

What to Do Instead: When you realize you’ve written 30,000 foot introductions, start by writing a second paragraph to actually introduce the article. Many times, you can just delete the original paragraph and go with the more detailed introduction.

If you’re having trouble introducing a topic without going up to 30,000 feet, create specificity and 3rd party credibility by adding a statistic or quote.

#2 – We All Know That…

The “we all know” or “as [members of a group], we all know” construction usually pops up when a writer is trying to empathize with the readers. While the intention may be good, execution can read a little clumsy.

Why It’s Less Effective: If we all know it, then the reader knows it, too. If the reader knows it, they may feel like we’re wasting their time. When you need to state the obvious in a post, it’s better to find an angle that adds something extra to what “we all know.”

What to Do Instead: As with the 30,000 Feet Introduction, use a quote or a statistic. Instead of, “we all know that content marketing is important,” go for, “as Michael Brenner says, ‘Content is the atomic particle of all marketing across paid, owned, and earned channels.’” Now you’ve made your point, given new information, and added credibility to your piece.

Or, you can just eliminate the “We All Know” and make your statement to sound more authoritative: “Content marketing is a vital piece of any marketing mix.”

#3 – In This Article, I Will…

Here’s another holdover from our five-paragraph-essay days. It’s a hard habit to break, because it seems like the easiest way to transition into the body of your content. It previews the structure of the article and moves you to your first subheading.

Why It’s Less Effective: A good introduction casts a spell on the reader, compelling them to keep reading. “In this article, I will…” is an awkward transition that breaks the spell. Even worse, it puts the focus on you, the author, instead of the reader.

What to Do Instead: Ask the reader to do what you want them to do: Read on. “Read on to learn X, Y, and Z.” Or make it inspirational: “You can do x, y, and z. Here’s how.” Or, “doing [these/the following] five things can help you accomplish X.” Show the reader what’s in it for them and they’ll be more likely to keep reading.

#4 – Rhetorical Questions

Who doesn’t love rhetorical questions? They seem like a great tool for getting your reader to ponder the topic you’re discussing. But should you avoid them? And how can you? (Sorry, last one, I promise).

Why They’re Less Effective: When I write a rhetorical question, I imagine my reader leaning forward, eyes wide in childlike wonderment, saying, “Golly gee, mister, how CAN I write better content?” I’m trying to create drama, but really I’m underestimating the reader’s intelligence.

People who take the time to read a blog post are smart (take you, for example. You’re reading this post, and I have no doubt you’re startlingly intelligent). Rhetorical questions invite your audience to come up with a different answer than the one you’re leading to, which can derail the point you’re trying to make.

What to Do Instead: The antidote for this one is easy: Turn your questions into statements. Instead of, “How can you avoid clichéd writing?” say “It’s important to avoid clichéd writing. You can ditch clichés by…” As a general rule, unless you’re inviting readers to actually respond to your question, make it a statement.

#5 – Alphabet Soup

My wife is a middle-school teacher. We have a game where we string together as many acronyms from our respective professions as we can. So I’ll say, “With a little CRO, you can tweak your CTA to increase the CTR of your PPC, getting a better ROI on your CPC.” And she’ll say, “The kid with the IEP clearly had ODD, but his FSP didn’t modify his CBA.” And we laugh. Oh, how we laugh. But the alphabet soup is less funny when you’re trying to glean information from an article.

Why It’s Less Effective: Acronyms aren’t universal. The same three or four letters can mean something radically different—or nothing at all—to a reader, depending on their background. Take the two alphabet-soup sentences above: some readers will get one and not the other, and many won’t understand either sentence.

What to Do Instead: First, keep your audience in mind. If they’re not marketers, avoid marketing jargon and acronyms entirely. Then make sure to spell out the first instance of an acronym, like “with a little conversion rate optimization (CRO)…”

It can’t hurt to spell out even the most obvious acronyms. Most readers know that ROI means return on investment, but you may have a French reader who thinks you’re shouting about a king (you see, in French “Le Roi” is the King, and…never mind). If you find you’re introducing three acronyms in a single sentence and spelling them all out is getting awkward, that’s a good indication you should break the sentence up.

Read Critically for Better Writing

Writing engaging content is a learned skill, like playing the violin or juggling live turtles. Or doing both at the same time, if you’re an overachiever. Avoiding these five clichés will help you write content your audience will enjoy reading. But these five are just the tip of the iceberg (which is also a cliché, if you’re counting). So continue honing your skills by writing, of course, but also by reading with a critical eye. When you go through your daily blog and news site crawl, look for overused phrases, convoluted sentences, and anything else that seems out-of-place.

What clichés do you struggle with in your writing? How do you keep your content fresh and relevant? Let me know in the comments.

Image: Shutterstock


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Online Marketing News: Twitter Gets Googled, Meerkat Makes A Cameo, Facebook Floats

The Science Behind Buyer Personas

How to Create Buyer Personas [Infographic] – Buyer personas give you insight into how to best engage with your various customer types. But before you start creating those personas, take time to do the research. Check out this infographic to find out. MarketingProfs

Twitter Officially Launches Ads Companion For Mobile Campaign Management – New tool, unveiled as a test last week, gives advertisers the ability to monitor and adjust campaigns from Twitter iOS and Android apps. Twitter

Facebook Gives Users More Control Over Their News Feeds – On Thursday, Facebook announced a set of features that will give each person more control over what he or she wants to see. In essence, you get to reprogram the algorithm. Facebook

TV Becomes Major Driver of Social Activity [Study] – A new study from ShareThis shows that traditional TV-watching has evolved to become a multi-screen social experience. How can networks leverage social to stay relevant? ClickZ

STUDY: Facebook Video Ads Thrive; Twitter Advertisers Must Go Mobile – Social advertising and data company Kinetic Social, a Facebook Marketing Partner, offered a look at first-quarter-2015 ad performance on Facebook and Twitter. SocialTimes

Only 20% of Marketers Use Behavioural Triggers In Email Marketing: Report – Behavioural marketing technology allows brands to provide targeted, relevant communications based on a user’s web activity. See why you should be using it. Econsultancy

Twitter Sets Birthday Balloons As Bait To Reel In More Personal Data – Company adds profile design flourish to encourage people to share their birthdates. The information will be used to serve more relevant information, including advertising. Twitter

Facebook Becomes the Fastest Growing Global Media Company – Facebook has long been a dominant social media platform, but now the brand has grown to be one of the most profitable media companies in the world, according to ZenithOptimedia. ClickZ

Meerkat Introduces Cameo, a Way for Viewers to Interact With Stream — and Facebook Integration – Meerkat this week introduced a new feature that allows viewers to take over and contribute to a live feed on the app. Called Cameo, the feature allows the filmer to select a viewer to appear on screen for up to 60 seconds. Meerkat

Facebook Adds ‘Videos’ Tab to Page Insights: Track Metrics Across Custom Date Ranges – Facebook announced a useful new addition today that will help page owners measure the success of their videos across custom date ranges. Facebook

Facebook Changes How It Charges Brands for Clicks on Their Ads – Facebook is changing how it charges advertisers for click-based campaigns to make sure that, in return for their money, marketers are getting more than social currency. Ad Age

Google Now Indexing 466% More Tweets, Still Favoring Higher Authority Users [Study] – Google is now indexing nearly 5x the Tweets as four months ago, yet more than 96% of Tweets still go unindexed. Search Engine Land

Twitter Introduces Video App Ads, Bidding Based On Actions & Installs – A year after launching its app install ad feature, Twitter says advertisers are getting strong ROI from the program. Marketing Land

Facebook Introduces New “Floating” Video Player, Continues Push on Video Content – Facebook’s march towards online video dominance continues, with another new feature added into the mix to get users viewing more video content. This week, Facebook is testing a new video player option where users can detach a video from the News Feed and move it to your preferred viewing location within the browser window. Social Media Today

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: WSI


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Effective Solutions In Heating and Cooling Systems in Australia



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Normally, through Australia, 40 percent of the energy we use at home is for heating and cooling. This does not include the heating of hot water. The amount of energy used by your home vary according to their needs and the environment where you live and the type of heating and cooling depends on you. Most households have to be heated or cooled to a certain time of year, but with an efficient home, which could avoid dependence on heating and cooling additional devices in total.

Besides the type of heating and cooling solutions you choose, how to work and take care of your system may also have a significant impact. Once you have used all the options of passive heating involved, the next step is to select a suitable to your situation heating. There are many types of heating with different reasons of energy and environmental quantities efficiency.Your, type water heater, how to use it and to its position in the room can make a positive change in their leisure and heating costs. When sizing and adequate system of your home, you can avoid investing in the energy required. Central heating often can heat an entire home, while the space (room) heat warms everyone in the room (or more in the American zone) is used. Whether you opt for the central heating or space, there are many technologies and different heating options to consider, the best type of heating for you is determined by your circumstances, including the size of the rooms to become heated, the number of people in your home and your local climate.

Efficient gas heaters and reverse cycle air conditioning (heat pumps) are cheaper to acquire than standard electric heaters and create about a third of the amount of greenhouse gases. Note that it is important to work with unflued gas heaters with adequate ventilation when they cause indoor air pollution probably at home that may affect their welfare. See the requirements of your state or place.

Central heating systems are often critical to the gas, but could use a water heater in the fire, or heat pump solar system. Most of these systems circulating hot water radiators through solar panels, fan coils or in some cases indirectly through a concrete slab.

Air conditioning (or heat pumps) reverse cycle represent the type of electrical energy efficiency heater.Heat more levers have a fan and led the parties directly unheated heat your home.

They can be a profitable, low cost of operation. Portable electric heaters can be cheap to buy but expensive to maintain. Many are not as useful as other strategies slab floor heating heating.Electric often stronger fuel emissions of greenhouse gases whole house heating and perform.As rules would be the highest you should clean the filters in your heating system regularly to make sure it works effectively, follow the actual manufacturer. Use thermostats and timers to ensure that you are only heated room with everything you need to make when you need to save energy and money. Research on the best type of heating and cooling for your circumstances, our information could help you get started.

Using Solar Power in Your Home



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Residential solar power is becoming an attractive option for many people. They can use the sun’s energy to operate various devices and to heat their homes. It is also earth-friendly and economical way to bring the power in your home. Solar energy can help reduce external energy consumption by 50-70 percent. There are several different ways you can use solar energy in your home, which may include the use of solar panels and solar thermal systems to produce electricity.

Once you have installed solar power in your home, you can use water heated by solar energy to produce hot water and heat your home. There will be a collector mounted on an elevated area, such as the roof, and is used to absorb thermal energy from the sun. Often increases the heat and stores the resulting hot water. This heat can be piped through radiators to heat the house and provide hot water. Besides reducing your electricity bills, it can add value to your home if you decide to sell your home.

The main reason why many people are using residential solar power is helping to reduce the cost of their utility bills. Depending on the type of solar system used in a dozen years, the solar panels can pay for themselves. The Department of Energy United States hopes that by 2020, solar energy will become common place in homes. They also expect to see the normal cut energy consumption by seventy percent in that time.

The solar electric panel is the technology used in solar power, which uses photons to produce electricity. Solar electric panels, known as photovoltaic panels (PV) can be installed in a variety of ways, such as:

• Free standing rigid sheets

• Adjust your ceiling

• peel and stick laminate

How dependent are installed ceiling. The captured energy is converted into electricity through a modified grid system. It has an installed meter that reads the amount of solar energy used in your home compared to normal electricity used. The meter will then subtract the power of solar energy is used and what is left is then applied to your electric bill.

Most solar energy systems that are used are also able to store some of the energy they generate so if there is a surplus of energy can be used at a later time. Besides using the stored energy to generate rooms hot water and heat, it can also supply for other electronic equipment and light your home. The main cost of solar energy is the cost of installing the system and solar panels.

Content Marketing Measurement & ROI Advice From Experts at Kraft Foods & 3M

Content-Marketing-Measurement-&-ROI

Understanding the potential risk and return on any investment is imperative for making a sound business decision. It doesn’t matter if the investment is monetary or that of time or resources.

In recent years, marketers have begun investing more and more into digital marketing programs. Content marketing investment specifically has been on a steady uprise and will only continue to increase in the coming years.

However, only 21% of B2B marketers say that they are successful at tracking content marketing ROI. That means that 79% of B2B marketers are investing in strategy and execution but are not able to track the success of their programs.

Have no fear, we brought in reinforcements. TopRank Marketing recently had the opportunity to interview Julie Fleischer of Kraft Foods and Carlos Abler of 3M as part of our Content Marketing World eBook series.

Julie Fleischer 070615

Julie Fleischer – Kraft Foods

Sr. Director Data + Content + Media

Content Marketing Measurement

With all of the articles and surveys and agencies calling for an increase in the amount of strategic content that marketers are producing, it would be easy to believe that we have universally arrived at the Era of Content Marketing.  Finally, the industry has come around to the belief, so well articulated by Michael Brenner, that it’s time to “stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

Flawed Measurement Models

Unfortunately, content marketing measurement lags far behind the common sense belief that if people don’t pay attention to it, they can’t be persuaded by it.  Marketing Mix Models, while painfully flawed, have the solid advantage of having been around for decades; they are built into volumetric forecasts.  They are the basis for financial investment.  They are the starting points for every media plan.

And yes, they represent a gross approximation of reality and cannot read small spends, emergent media, or the diverse, intimate, personal, service- driven nuances of content distribution, but they have been around forever, so what CMO is going to forgo their guidance to approve a plan that is wholly ungrounded?

And how on earth can the esoteric, precious, and unproven metrics we’ve been using in content marketing unseed the dominance of Mix?  If trust is built on credibility and credibility is built on consistently delivering what you say you’ll deliver, how can convenience metrics ever win? The fact of the matter is, they can’t.

We’ve been so focused on measuring what’s easy to measure and what’s unique by platform, that we’ve failed the basic tests of marketing metrics:

  • Do they measure what we really need to know?
  • Are they material?
  • Can they predictably guide our businesses?

Determine Critical Measurements

The most important thing you can do as a content marketer is determine what measurements are critical in driving spending decisions at your company and then build an analytic methodology that answers it for content.  Is it ROI?  ROAS?  CPA?  What will it take to prove the worth of your content vs every other form of marketing spend available?

The sooner we build methods to measure the true attributable impact of content marketing on product sales in a way that can be compared directly to other marketing investments, the sooner content marketing, with all of its common sense virtues, can finally replace dated, ineffective and failing forms of marketing communications.  It’s all in the measurement.

Carlos Abler 070615

Carlos Abler – 3M

Leader: Content Marketing Strategy

Using Science to Create a Sound Approach to Content Marketing ROI

I want to focus on the notion of blending socio-behavioral sciences methodologies with data sciences and content and application marketing. Today, marketing is being moved sideways into social socio-behavioral sciences but doesn’t quite realize it.

A number of years ago I worked on an initiative where we used intelligent content highly tailored to the personal change management psychographics of individuals, merged with behavioral and other data with the goal of increasing smoking cessation. The results were phenomenal and a testament to how powerful content can be in transforming behavior.

Ultimately marketing and sales goals are about changing behavior. Ideally in an ethical fashion to the mutual benefit of all. And you can’t beat micro-segmentation at levels optimized to leverage principles of motivational psychology. But to even speculate as to how this type of approach can be leveraged in marketing requires education that marketers simply don’t have.

Create a Blended Team

Another skill most marketers don’t have is knowing what real science looks like. They need a lot of help to understand what it means to set up solid research, and to draw VALID CONCLUSIONS from the evidence. If you put together a team that has a blend of social sciences skills, data sciences, and solid editorial and application development practice, all within an agile framework, you would see some really powerful results.

While this may seem a little outlandish, it really is the logical conclusion for tracing the ROI of content marketing efforts. People are doing this kind of work whether they are any good at it or not. It’s the same situation as businesses becoming publishers. We also need to acquire these scientific methods to realize the full competitive opportunity that the digital disruption as afforded us.

Find the Solution That Works for You

Julie recommends that marketers focus on the basics for beginning to measure content marketing programs. However, when it comes to ROI Carlos suggests a scientific approach for determining true value.

What blend of practical sense and a scientific approach do you think will have the biggest impact on your content marketing measurement and ROI?

Header Image: Shutterstock


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Online Marketing News: G+ Brands Stripped, The Mayor Has Returned, Facebook Gives You A Cut

Social Media Acronyms

The 75 Most Important Social Media Acronyms – Acronyms are a natural fit for social media networks. These platforms are based on short and snappy communication, so it makes sense for people to rely on abbreviations, especially for common phrases. Check out this infographic and see how many you know. Sprout Social

Google+ Brand Posts Have Been Stripped From Knowledge Graph Cards – Brand posts on Google+ will no longer be displayed in the Knowledge Graph cards, instead they’ll be treated like all other social updates in the traditional search results. Search Engine Land

Facebook Pages See Organic Likes Rise 0.2% in May (Report) – A total of 43.36 percent of Facebook pages advertised on the social network in May, according to the latest research from social analytics and reporting firm Locowise. SocialTimes

Move Over YouTube: Facebook Will Offer Video Creators A Share Of Ad Revenue – Video publishers will get 55% share of revenue for ads that appear near their content in a new algorithmically created Suggested Video feed. Marketing Land

Facebook Taking into Account More Actions on Videos – Facebook has begun to take other actions outside likes and comments into account from those viewing their videos. See what they are. Facebook

Snapchat Launches Native Video Ads – Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has been talking vision a lot recently. Just last month, he spoke about the future (aka: business model) for Snapchat being advertising. This week Spiegel took his pitch to the Cannes Lions Festival to talk more about turning Snapchat into a platform for storytelling. SocialTimes

Google Offers Olive Branch To Journalists & News Publications With Launch Of Google News Lab – Google says it wants to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help build the future of media. Marketing Land

The Google Mobile Search Carousel Adds Pinterest Pins, Vines, Houzz & Food Network Recipes – The Google Search news carousel gets a bit more social with Pinterest Pins, Vines and more. Search Engine Land

Claim That Crown: Swarm Mayorships Are Back – When Swarm/Foursquare first launched Swarm, you fiercely battled your friends for a chance at a Mayor crown. But it just wasn’t as much fun. That’s why today we’re upping the ante and letting you compete for mayorships against everyone. Foursquare

Facebook Testing ‘See First’ News Feed Customization Feature – Facebook continues to experiment with ways to let users customize their News Feeds, and See First, which appears to be an expansion of a test that was spotted in April, is the latest example. SocialTimes

Microsoft Signs 10-Year Deal For AOL To Use Bing’s Ads & Listings – Google loses deal it held since 2002, but AOL matters far less than it once did. Search Engine Land

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Sprout Social


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Content Marketing: 4 Tips for Creating B2B Content When You’re at a Loss for Words

writers-block

Content marketing has rapidly become an essential piece of the B2B marketing puzzle. Buyers are more connected and more self-directed than ever before, and informative, engaging content is key to making sure your organization becomes part of the buyer journey.

Creating a steady stream of quality content can be challenging for any marketer, but especially for those in B2B marketing, where buyers expect to be informed and entertained at the same time. So it’s no surprise that Content Marketing Institute’s latest report found that 54% of B2B Marketers rated producing engaging content as a top challenge, and 50% said producing content consistently is a challenge.

If you’re a B2B content marketer, sooner or later you’ll likely find yourself facing a blank screen with a head full of complex information that won’t move to the keyboard. So what do you write when you don’t know what to write? Here are a few strategies to remove the block between your brain and your fingertips:

#1 – Start with Structure

If you’re like me, you hated writing outlines for school assignments. I would always draft first, then reverse-engineer the outline.

But as a professional content creator, outlines are your new best friend. Take your complex topic and imagine what your sub-headings should be to discuss the topic. That way, you won’t get hung up on word choice or phrasing and can focus on the key information you want to get across. Once the structure is in place, it will be far easier to fill in the content.

#2 – Write the 5-Year-Old Version

Recently I was writing content for a client about the importance of balancing marketing efforts across the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel (sometimes called ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu marketing). I was having trouble explaining it in a clear and concise way. Finally, I thought, how would I explain this to my 5-year-old son? In a matter of minutes, I wrote the following little fairy tale:

“Once upon a time there were three little goats named Tofu, Mofu, and Bofu. Tofu trip-trapped happily through the meadow all day, blissfully unaware of the troll under the bridge nearby. Mofu knew the troll lived under the bridge, but wasn’t sure how the troll affected his day-to-day life and wasn’t ready to do anything about the monster. Only Bofu had seen across the bridge to a beautiful meadow of green grass, and was ready to take steps to get rid of the troll.

The local heroes who got rid of trolls focused their attention on Bofu exclusively. He knew he had a problem and wanted someone to solve it. The heroes didn’t see that it was important to offer their services to Tofu and Mofu, and so they missed out on getting the other two goats to start thinking about their troll problem. The heroes would have had better luck selling their services to all three goats.”

Obviously, I didn’t forward my fairy tale to the client. But writing it enabled me to lay out the argument for full-funnel marketing that I was trying to make, and I finished the client draft within the hour.

The “5-year-old-version” strategy helps you to explain what you’re trying to write to yourself, which makes the grown-up version far easier to write.

#3 – Write the Conversational Version

If you don’t have a 5-year-old in your life to use as an imaginary sounding board, write the way you would talk to an old friend. You don’t ever have writer’s block in a casual conversation, right? So write the way you would talk. Even better, exaggerate the tone—let yourself be silly. Try to make yourself smile.

For example, when I get stuck I’ll write something like: “Okay, so check it out bro, this new eBook is the bomb dot com. I know you’ve got some mad problems with your content marketing, but this book is gonna drop knowledge on you. Get it, yo!” After about a paragraph of that, I’m ready to reign it in and write the professional version.

#4 – Write the Garbage Version

Voltaire said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Sometimes the source of writer’s block is that perfect version of the content you see in your head. So you write a few lines, they don’t measure up to the standard, and you erase everything. It’s easy to convince yourself that the version in your head is so much better than anything you could put on the screen.

But the truth is, any version of the content that exists is better than something that isn’t real. So don’t let that imaginary ideal form of the content stop you from writing.

When you get stuck trying to write the perfect words, turn off your inner editor and just write garbage. Type with your eyes closed if you can, so you’re not tempted to edit. Whatever clumsy, error-riddled, clichéd garbage you put on the screen is still better than a non-existent perfect piece. And now you have a start, something you can edit and refine until it’s worth showing to the world.

Content marketing is a business function, but it’s also a creative endeavor. As such, it’s just as subject to writer’s block as any other form of writing. When you’re stuck with that blank screen, stop thinking about creating the perfect finished piece and try for a different perspective. Write an outline to make sure your structures solid, or write a simplified version to help organize your thoughts. Write a silly version, bro, for reals. Write absolute trash. Just write something. Even the messiest first draft is the start of creating an amazing piece of content.

What is your favorite way to get past a block in your writing?

Image: Shutterstock


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