The Creative Writer’s Way of Making a Content Calendar

If you’re anything like me as a writer—may God have mercy on your soul—people-watching is your fingers-to-keyboard gold. You excel at drawing out the interesting from the mundane, crafting fictional characters from nonfiction, eavesdropping your way into tales spun from invisible storytelling thread. It’s the creative thinker in you, and it has its place in the world of blogging and marketing as much as it does in your daydreams. Because content, no matter its form or presentation, is all about standing in someone else’s shoes, seeing the world with another person’s peepers, or any other idiomatic turn of phrase to reflect “empathy.”

Content Calendar

And isn’t that our goal as content kingpins: To understand our characters as well as our readers? In this post, we’re going to swim around in my Mind Palace, where my creative and professional sides mingle and give birth to what I like to call “Fictional/Nonfictional User Stories.” I just made that up, but whatever we call it, it’s going to help you develop a content calendar around reader personas that may actually exist. Yay.

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How To Create An Effective Content Strategy

It’s all in your head. No, not that little voice saying “I really want to have some ice cream and binge-watch my favorite shows on Netflix.” Rather, we’re talking about your online content strategy. You do have one, right?

Creative Content Strategy

According to Demian Farnworth of copyblogger.com, many small business marketers have a content strategy that is most likely not written down. Instead, it’s just a jumble of vague notions and ideas that resides in a business owner’s head, but not on paper.

Farnworth cites a 2015 study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs which found that only 39% of small business owners have a written content marketing strategy. Even more surprising, the study reveals that about 12% of those polled have no content strategy whatsoever. To which we say, “Yikes!”

The study also reveals that those companies that do have a well-defined content strategy are more than twice as likely to be successful than those who only have an ill-defined verbal content strategy.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to ROI and profitability, doesn’t it? An ineffective, or even nonexistent, content strategy could be seriously torpedoing your sales and marketing objectives. As Farnworth sagely points out, “Your content strategy helps you see clearly, avoid excuses, and remove distractions. It’s there to keep you accountable.”

Well said.

Now that we’ve established the importance of drafting and sticking to a clear content strategy for your business, the question is: How do you go about doing it? According to Farnworth, here are some important questions you need to ask as you begin crafting your successful content strategy.

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5 SEO Myths You Should Ditch In 2017

2016 was packed with constant SEO changes and updates from Google. We predict Google has more updates and changes in store for us in 2017. Before we brace for the changes to come, however, there are a few strings we need to let go of. To move toward the future, we need to let go of past beliefs; cliché, but true.

Last year we saw a big shift from keyword stuffing to a focus on creating high-quality content. This brought about myths and assumptions that have left many marketers unsure of what’s really important when it comes to SEO success.

At Opportunity Max, our goal is to keep our readers enlightened about what’s in and what’s out in the SEO world. We’ve come up with a list of SEO myths that you need to let go of so that you can stop wasting time on methods that don’t work. Check it our below.

5 SEO Myths You Should Ditch In 2017

 “The More Links The Better” 

“The More Links The Better”

Fact: Too often, businesses focus on the quantity of links rather than the quality.  Although links still play an important role in ranking on search engines, they’re not about numbers anymore. Having diverse links to relevant content is the key. Invest less time building multiple links and spend more time creating relevant website, blog and social media content that can be shared on all your online platforms.

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The Ultimate List of Chrome Extensions & Firefox Add-Ons You Should Be Using

Attention all marketers, content writers, bloggers, and those who know how to open a browser. You’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, and where it ends nobody knows. But what is known is that you’ll be far better off and much more suited to tackle the internet once you’re through with this post. With tools that keep you hidden and make your SEO and PPC campaigns simpler to track, here’s our ultimate list of useful Chrome extensions and Firefox add-ons that you absolutely, positively, must start using.

*Notes: To download, you must have Chrome or Firefox browsers installed.

Star
= OppMax’s Pick of the Litter

 

Edit (Nov 2017): With the update to Firefox (57), many Firefox add-on links below may be outdated. Please review this article for more information about the new Firefox Webextensions feature.

SEO, PPC, & Digital Marketing

SEO Extensions

Google Publisher Toolbar – View your AdSense, Ad Exchange, and DoubleClick campaigns straight from your browser. [Available: Chrome Extension]

Catalytics – Rarely updated but still purrfect, this add-on replaces photos on the Google Analytics page with those of our feline friends. [Available: Chrome Extension]

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Copywriting Tips on Making Content Sexy in a Boring Industry

I’ll get to the copywriting tips in a second, but first I’d like to tell a story (yes, it’s related—sort of).

I very recently engaged in a heated debate with an acquaintance—okay, it was more like a verbal spat that nearly crossed the line into nerdy fisticuffs—about a grammatical myth that still seems to have legs. Here’s an example of the crux of our discussion, which is formatted as a screenplay scene because that’s how I roll:

screenplay-image-1024x396

 

I loathe the superstition claiming that sentences shouldn’t begin with ands or buts, though there’s another myth I abhor even more: To prove your authority on a boring topic, your content must match suit. Yikes—talk about a yawnfest. Who wants to read that drivel?

Well, the deal is that no matter your subject matter, you can absolutely write compelling content without relying on buzzwords or being so dense or pedantic you risk putting an insomniac to sleep. Here are a few copywriting tips to take with you as you dive into content writing for those not-so-sexy industries.

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Improve User Experience with Exceptional Microcopy

Good website design is always about words, especially when there aren’t many of them. Brevity is of vital importance when engaging readers, because, as we know, Hell hath no fury like an inpatient user scorned. That’s where microcopy comes into play.

MicroCopy

What is microcopy, you ask? It can take on a variety of definitions, though its simplest breakdown is as such: The snippets of text that answer questions and nudge your readers toward conversion. Everything from navigation to ad to button text could be considered as microcopy.

Of course, it’s more than just that. Microcopy is as much an educational tool as it is a pathway toward improving User Experience (UX). It should set expectations, promise to meet those expectations, then exceed those expectations. Most importantly, good microcopy should be so unobtrusive in its use that your readers won’t be consciously aware that they needed it. All in as few words as possible.

What may seem like a task so daunting it borders on impossible, writing your site’s microcopy is certainly doable. When done correctly, you’ll enhance your users’ experience with functional text so fluid it’ll feel like a swimming pool—in a good way.

Let’s swim through ways you can expertly craft delightful microcopy that stays in step with your company’s voice and establishes a rapport with your readers.

Reading & Understanding the Fine Print

It might not be a sexy topic, but microcopy is like the knob to your site design’s front door. So, how welcoming is your entrance? If the answer is “not very,” then you may be in need of some word beautification.

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15 Synergizing Content Marketing & Keyword Tools To Make Life Easier

Not long ago, when the internet was still considered “The Internet” in all its capitalized glory, marketers such as ourselves were in a free-for-all battle where information shared amongst others was tantamount to treason. Now, with the internet finding its lower-case place in history, sharing information is an appreciated practice that won’t result in scowls and sideways glances from the SEO industry’s elites. No—the world has changed for the better, and helpful tools such as the 15 listed below should aid in any marketer’s efforts.

Content Marketing Tools

If we all lived life like Ringo Starr, we might also find solace knowing that everyone needs a little help from their friends—even the competitive ones. Although we can’t promise our favorite content marketing, blogging, and keyword tools will have you swimming in pools of money like Mr. Starr, we can guarantee that you’ll find each resource to be helpful to some degree. (Also, here’s the pick-me-up tune to set this listicle’s tone).

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How To Improve Your Blog’s Conversion Rate

Do you often find yourself looking for ways to get more people to sign up to your blog? Generating leads from your blog is not an easy task, but with the right design and tools, it can be done. We know how discouraging it can be to consistently write content for your blog when your conversion rate is lower than 1%. Through a little trial and error, and years of experience in blogging for business, we’ve come up with a few blogging techniques that will improve your blog’s conversion rate and your audience’s reading experience.

Include Colorful Images 

 Colorful attention grabbing image

It’s no secret humans process visual information better than any other form of data. So why leave out images in your blogs when you could be attracting more visitors with colorful graphics? We get it; creating original graphics and images can be time-consuming, not to mention, expensive.

Having a graphic designer on your team is not always necessary. You don’t have to be the Pablo Picasso of graphics; even just simple images will keep your visitors more interested than when you only have plain text.

There are many online resources where you can create customized graphics. One of our favorite free online tools is Canva. Not only is it user-friendly, it also offers free graphics and images that will help you make a killer infographic.

Telling people about your business or sharing relevant information is great, but showing them that information is even better. Visual content clarifies concepts better, and reinforces understanding. A recent study showed that the top search results on Google have a lot of images, which get more shares. Be sure to include relevant graphics and photos in your blog posts.

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The Missing Puzzle Pieces to Your Company’s Voice

So I said: “How else should I have opened this lobster tail?”

Like the punchline to this risqué joke, even the most imaginative content must be anchored in context for it to impact its targeted audience. Without such context—a brand-wide persona and voice, in this instance—your content is essentially worth its weight in diddly-squat, which is exactly zero pounds because diddly-squat should not be a word in Merriam-Webster no matter what the search results say.

Having taken a plentiful if not unhealthy amount of graduate-level workshops in college, I finally discovered the missing piece to the puzzle that is Audience-focused Writing: Not everyone will get it. Not everyone will get your dry sarcasm, your goofy repartee with homophones, your references to obscure pop culture circa 1999. There will always be readers who choose minimalistic writing like that of Hemingway over the verbosity of Dickens’s work.

And I learned that that’s okay. For every pretentious sophomore in the corner—you know, the 19-year-old whose favorite fictional character is Holden Caulfield because he perfectly epitomizes teenage angst—who doesn’t appreciate your work, there will many others who will. With this piece of the puzzle uncovered, your goal should be to funnel the latter into your whirlpool of content, and pay no mind to that pompous, no-good, self-aggrandizing reader who sits alone and probably eats his boogers. (Some would say that I hold grudges.)

shutterstock_257524879-768x512

Like any puzzle, completing your goals and building a company-wide voice starts with four corner pieces—the cornerstones, if you will—that clarify your position and aid in crafting a relationship with readers.

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