7 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Blog Content

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If you’ve been blogging for more than a couple of months, you have no doubt run into “content block”. The single greatest struggle in having a blog is to continuously come up with fresh and original content.

This post is designed to give you the best ways to stay inspired with a long list of topics that will keep you posting to the delight of your readers for months and months to come.

1) Become a Subscriber

Both inside and outside of your industry, there are bloggers sharing great content that can inspire you to take your own writing in a myriad of different directions. If you’re not already a subscriber to several, if not many, blogs through an RSS Feed Reader than now is the time. You can also subscribe to many blogs via email but I find that it’s more difficult to keep track of the content over time.

AnRSSReadercanaggregate your feeds into one place for easy browsing. The key with this tool is to start by only reading posts that have compelling headlines. Skip the boring headlines; if they don’t inspire you to read, it’s unlikely that they will inspire you to write a great post yourself.I use Google Reader, I’d be interested to hear what RSS Reader you use.

2) Put Out an Alert

I’m going to sound a bit like a Google pimp here but Google Alerts is a fabulous source for fresh content. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts and type in a search term that integrates with your business or your best client’s needs. Set the alert to be delivered at the desired frequency and you’ll have a flood of great ideas in your inbox to write about.

3) The Other Side of Twitter

The big noise with Twitter is the ability to do short updates (called Tweets) to those who follow you and your ability to follow the Tweets of those you are interested in. That’s all good but there’s a more powerful function of Twitter made possible by all the great Tweeters out there.

Twitter search will bring you the latest information as shared by Twitter members for whatever search terms you choose. Use it to find the most recent and fresh content available online that will inspire you to write and make you a leader to your industrybyalways blogging about the hottest and most meaningful topic for yourprospects.

4) Check Your Rear View Blogging Mirror

Be your own inspiration by glancing back at your past posts to see if you can do one of two things:

1 – Update a previous post with new information that will be helpful for both new readers and subscribers who may have read the original post. Times change, new technologies or services come around, companies fail or expand; this can be a great source of fresh content.

2 – Expand on a previous post. There was something you merely mentioned in a post that could use a step by step explanation for your reader. Is there an industry term that you used that can be drilled into for better understanding to your prospect?

It’s likely that you have a good number of posts just sitting inside your current content, just barking to be let out. Let them out!

5) Go to the Source

Who are you writing for? If you are blogging to make money by selling a product or service then you have a specific person you are writing to. Go directly to that person and ask them what their most pressing issues are right now.Research the answer and create a series of posts to bring them value. You ask – they give. You give – they appreciate. They give again: This time with cash or credit card. Nice huh?

6) The Questions May Be Your Answer

LinkedIn,Merchant Circleand Yahoo all have great services where people askquestions specifically related to your industry. Don’t bother reading the answer to the questions, focus on the questions themselves.

Here’s a formula to follow:

Prospect’s question = Answer in Blog Post (deep, I know)


Question: How do I do XYZ?

Blog Post: How to do XYZ!

Please don’t ask me to explain any further.

7) Step Outside the Digital Plastic Box

The computer and the internet are not the only sources of great ideas.

  • Listening to radio ads
  • A misleading news story
  • Signs at a gas station,
  • An annoying billboard
  • An interesting item on the menu,
  • The personal philosophy of your hair stylist
  • A conversation between friends

These are the makings of great blog posts. Your clients and prospects live in the real world so pay attention to it and you’ll discover an endless supply of quality ideas to write about.

I hope this helps and I would love to hear your thoughts by adding a comment to this post.

5 Great Reasons You Should Have a Blog and 1 Giant Reason to Ignore the 5 Great Reasons

2010 - August - 10 - NodeXL - Twitter BlogHer FR layout
Creative Commons License photo credit: Marc_Smith

As a marketing consultant in Minnesota, I talk to sales professionals and business owners nearly every day and although they have heard over and over that blogging is very important to their ability to generate new business from the internet, they just can’t get on board.

This post is all about why you must have a blog to promote yourself or your business online. Blogging is becoming less of an option and more of a necessity for both online and offline businesses.

So, I have 5 reasons why you should be blogging and 1 very big reason to ignore the other five.

Here are the 5 reasons to blog:

1) Blogs are the best way to demonstrate that you are a real leader in your industry. Because blogs are all about giving quality information to your visitors, they will come to see you as a true authority in your field – if you are delivering good and helpful content of course.

2) Blogs give visitors reasons to connect with you over and over again. Traditional websites are mainly static. Once a visitor has been there, there’s usually little reason to return. Blog’s are updated regularly so visitors are more apt to return – for more good content.

3) Blogs allow for interaction. Visitors can make comments and ask questions on your blog and you can reply back. That makes them feel good about you and your company. Helping prospects to feel good about you and what you do is like marketing gold. It makes closing the sale a near after-thought.

4) Search engines love blogs. Because they always have fresh content, many blogs are taking over long held search positions of traditional websites. This means you have a much better chance of showing up on a high position for targeted keywords.This makes quality traffic to your site much easier task- not easy, but easier!

5) Blogs are super simple to set up, customize, add video, audio, photos and articles and you don’t need any real technical knowledge. Psssst… don’t tell your web designer I told you. You can use a bogging service such as Blogger.com, WordPress.com or TypePad.com or you can install WordPress on your own server and host your blog yourself – which I recommend.

Now let me give you 1 giant reason

1) A blog takes some commitment. It’s not a set it and forget tool. You need to post at least once per week or more for it to be effective.Most would suggest 2-4 times per week and sometimes more depending on the type of blog you choose to manage.The biggest stumbling block to using a blog is coming up with quality content to regularly post.

In my next post I will give some great tips on how to get content ideas to come to you rather than having to brainstorm them on your own. This will be a great post if you are currently blogging or plan to in the future.

Although these tricks make content creation much easier, it’s still requires some energy. Basically, if you can’t make the commitment to posting regularly… don’t do it. An inactive blog is worse than not having one at all.

Look for the next post to make content creation much easier.

I would love your comments or questions on this post

Still think Social Media is a Fad?

I don’t know many folks who fully embrace the “Social Media is a fad” idea any longer but there are still those who choose to ignore it because they don’t understand it, don’t have time for it or simply just don’t get it.

This video should help to open the eyes of those who are still procrastinating. I have a few comments following the video if you’re interested:

I post this today from Socialnomics.com as a warning to those procrastinators out there. It’s not that Social Media is a great way to market yourself or your business. It’s not that there’s a lot of people using social media every day. The issue for those who choose to stay afraid of it or not have time for it is that social media is already becoming the dominant platform for all online commerce. What’s even more important is that it’s becoming a dominant platform for ALL commerce period.

There is no choice any longer for businesses to engage through social media. Businesses that don’t will risk the loss of current customers to those who are willing to engage and will be out hustled for any new business in the future. It’s easy to out hustle when you attend a giant party will your target marketing every single day of the week.

Facebook Marketing Tip #2

Just in case you missed Facebook Marketing Tip #1… click here

Have a Purpose

There is a definite issue that comes with social media marketing of any kind:  Facebook in particular carries a potential pitfall of being a serious distraction to a business owner or marketer.

The only real way to avoid this pitfall is to set a few rules of engagement and most of all, have a clear purpose.

Here are some goals that should help you focus your efforts:

Goal #1:  Expand your reach

Marketing with Facebook should almost always involve the goal of reaching key people that you don’t already have good connection with.  This is also one of the most powerful elements of marketing with social media in general.

If you are a loan officer, you may target real estate agents.  If you are an advertising sales professional, you may want to target the heads of marketing for medium to large size companies with proven ad budgets.

Expanding your reach when it comes to Facebook is about finding the key people and requesting that they be your friend.  My personal experience is that about 60-75% of all friend requests that I make are accepted, so don’t worry about whether they will or they won’t accept you.  This is still business – they know it and you know it.

One last comment about “reach” – Having a large group of friends on Facebook is impressive to your visitor.  It’s a form of “social proof” that is invaluable to the conversion of a prospect into a client or customer.  If so many people are your friends, you must be worth knowing… get it?


At this point I need to make a distinction between using Facebook Fan Pages as compared to using your Facebook Profile for marketing purposes.  The answer is much about preference but it likely involves the type of business that you have.  I find that local service based businesses such as mortgage, real estate and insurance professionals get good traction by using profiles but higher advertising based businesses get good traction with fan pages.  Here’s the short answer to the question:  Use BOTH – Facebook is emerging as the next Google and too many folks jumped on Google too late.  Don’t make that mistake.  Market with both profile and fan pages;  there are good reasons to do both.

For the purpose of this post, I’m discussing Facebook Profile Marketing as a solid social media strategy.


When requesting friendship of key prospects in your target marketing, keep in mind that Facebook is social.  Stay away from pitch based interaction completely and build that relationship through engagement.

Goal #2:  Provide value

Providing value is key to winning the hearts and minds of your target market.  Be free with information that will help your friends on Facebook to better their success in life or business.

The internet is filled with good (not all) content that you can quickly mine out and distribute to your friends or fans on Facebook.  Make sure it’s quality and it applies.  There’s no reason to just throw information out.  Quality is better than quantity in this case.  The better the value of the content, the more likely it is to actually engage with your connections.  Mediocre content allows your connections to eventually assume that what you post is not worth their time.  Don’t let that happen or you’ve blown a good opportunity.

Goal #3:  Be interactive

You should spend a few minutes each day joining conversations, liking and commenting on other people updates.

The value here is multifold and worthy of an entire blog post but the short of it is:  viral exposure to other networks, visual exposure to the one you are commenting on relational exposure by showing interest as a human being.

Goal #4:  Bring the conversation offline

Again, this post is focused on local (sales professional based) business marketing.  This type of business is mostly handled on a face to face, handshake basis.  To bring the conversation to the next level, hold an event and invite your fans or friends to attend.  The event should now start to move the conversation toward business.  The event should be a big value gift to your target market.

This is not a new strategy in marketing.  With that said, event based marketing is still one of the single most powerful marketing strategies around and too many sales professionals or business owners take a pass on it’s power.  Converting even 5-10 new Facebook friends to a seminar, webinar, round table or worthy charity event is like an engagement ring in a hopeful relationship.  It’s not a closed deal but you can almost put a date on the sale.

The reality of our times is that marketing with Facebook is no longer an optional endeavor.  These goals will help you to be focused and productive in your efforts.

I’m very interested in your comments and I’d love to connect via Facebook and Twitter.

Photo credit given to nikkipilkington.com

3 Less Sexy but Powerful Methods for Online Video to Grow Your Business

It seems like using video for SEO and traffic is all the rage today. Search the terms “video” and “SEO” and be prepared for special reports, whitepapers, blog posts and tech chatter falling like a heavy rain from thedigital sky.

Here are three ways to use video that do not necessarily involve SEO but can add massive benefit to your business by selling on your behalf, increasing your fan base and nabbing sales that you thought you had lost.

Method #1. Product Demos – ThinkShamWow

Despite the ridicule of famed (and defamed) pitchman VinceShlomi, ShamWow has sold about $1 Billion (with a “B”) in towels to date; all on the back of a single commercial produced in a trade show demonstration style.

If you ask most folks they will tell you that Vince made ShamWow work but my contention is that the demonstration is far more powerful than Vince’s pitch. Imagine converting the ShamWow video into an audio only presentation. Listen to it in your mind and tell me if it has near the power of the actual commercial.

The real power behind the ShamWow (1 Billion with a “B”) success story is the demonstration of the product itself, captured on video for millions of people to see – over and over again.

Product (or even service) demos are extremely powerful marketing and sales tools and video is a perfect distribution platform to get them to a focused market quickly.

It’s likely that your business could benefit in big ways from this method of using online video.

Method #2. Post Sale Customer Service (sales)

One missing link in the marketing of many products is the ability for companies to follow up and make sure that the customer is enjoying their product. This too, is marketing. Here’s an example of how online video can (and should) be used to create raving fans:

Introducing:The Zizzbee (Fictional Product)

The Zizzbee Frisbee -A new Frisbee disc with special adjustable vents that make it fly up to 200 yards in one correct toss. With the slight change in one of the adjustable vent louvers it can fly in boomerang fashion or even fly straight up in the air in a swooping fashion with proper technique.

You can learn special tricks, play special sporting games or even join a Zizzbee activity club in your area. Let’s examine the stages that a Zizzbee buyer may go through after purchase.

  1. Buyer purchases Zizzbee in a local big box store
  2. Buyer opens the package at home and tries to throw the Zizzbee like a conventional Frisbee disc.
  3. Buyer does not get the results he expects so he checks the instructional insert for help
  4. Insert gives techniques on basic Zizzbee tosses so buyer attempts the techniques with moderate results
  5. Buyer uses Zizzbee as a novelty item at a backyard BBQ with friends and it generates some positive interaction
  6. Buyer wants to know more of what Zizzbee can do but has lost the insert that came in the original package
  7. Buyer searches the internet to find out more about Zizzbee stuff,Etc.

This is a reasonable stage scenario for a fictitious product.The Zizzbee Corporation could include an instructional DVD with the product which would increase the cost of production and packaging and likely raise the price of the Zizzbee unit or reduce the overall margin per unit or…

The Zizzbee Corporation could include a flyer inside the package with an online registration that would give their new Zizzbee buyer exclusive access to a video library or a series of videos delivered by email that would address their new Zizzbee lover’s needs at each of the stages that I’ve outlined above.

Now get this…Zizzbee Corporation creatively uses the videos to also promote other Zizzbee products that they KNOW their Zizzbee buyer will be interested in. Zizzbee Flyer Wrist Guards, Zizzbee T-shirts and hats or even one month of free access to the Zizzbee Super Stars Club where they can learn Zizzbee techniques that only the best Zizzbee players in the world know and teach. Of course the customer will be billed $9.97 per month for every month they choose to remain in the Zizzbee Super Stars Club.

*End of Fictional ProductDesciption*

Whether you’re selling legal services, insurance, auto repair or Frisbee discs, your business has a post sales customer usage cycle; every business does. If you can anticipate the stages of that cycle, you can use video to help your customers enjoy your product and enjoy buying more stuff from you in the process.

Method #3. Overcome objections in segments

In today’s world of limited face to face sales, the salesperson does not always have the opportunity to handle all objections to the purchase of a product or service.

Using web video and email together can create sales for customers who initially would not take the time to listen. Short videos that overcome objections can be sent to the prospect over a designated period to lower the defenses for a follow up phone call from the sales department.

The best part of this practice is that you create the videos one time and they work behind the scenes while you’re closing the easier sale. Using video in this manner also forces a follow up system that is automated through email or other means, requiring very little ongoing effort or cost to the company. Hey… if you land 1 out of 20, you still got a sale that you would never have gotten without it.

Use one, or all of these web based video methods, and you’ll be glad you did. I would love to hear your thoughts on this post.

Facebook Marketing Tip – #1

Many small business owners and sales professionals are struggling to integrate social media into their marketing plan. 

I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s important but where do you even start?  Here’s a great nugget…

Start with a good profile page

Make sure you have your entire profile completed so that others canget a feel for who you areandnot just what you do.Upload some photos of you and your family, co-workers, events you’ve participated in and any charity groups you are involved with.  Tell them what kind of music you like, books you appreciate and quotes that mean something to you. 

I want to use Facebook for marketing, why should I do all this personal stuff?

Of course you should list links to your business websites and complete theemploymentsection of your profile as well, butfirst and foremost, Facebook is…Social. 

Absolutely no consumers are scouring Facebook to find a loan officer,

insurance agent, air duct cleaner, dentist orRealtor.  Facebook is not a

search engine or yellow page platform.

Think of Facebook like a big neighborhood get together.  Of course you can and will get business by meeting people at a neighborhood party but that’s not why people usually go.

They want to meet and connect with interesting people and enjoy themselves.  Trying to be all business and no social on Facebook is like showing up at a neighbor’sback yard clam bakein a 3 piece suit, wingtips and a black briefcase. You’ll stand out, but NOT in a good way. 

Make sure that other Facebook users can get a strong sense of who you areas well aswhat you do.

Wrap up

Marketing yourself on Facebook starts with a good profile set up.  If you are concerned about privacy, Facebook provides some settings thatletyou to identify certain groups of friends to seeyourmore personalcontent.  Make sure you don’t just block your entire personal life fromthepeople you are trying to get businessfrom;it’s a big mistake that many business mindedFacebookusers make.

Getting a New Website to Rank in Google

More than a few times during marketing consultations, clients have told me that they spent outrageous (relative term) amounts of money on building a website but no one can find them on the internet.

What gives???

Creating a web site is no different than building or choosing a new physical location for your business.  The old saying still stands strong:  Location, location, location!

If you’re new office is off the beaten path, you need to take extra steps to tell the world where they can find you.  You can build the fanciest, coolest, grooviest (outdated I know) office in your city, but if no one knows you’re there – you’ll be the only one impressed by its wonder.

Spending money on a web site is fine but simply having a site on the web does not guarantee, or even slightly mean, that your prospects will find you when they search in Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine.

So what’s the answer?

It’s called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and it’s complicated and controversial to say the least.  20-30% of SEO involves what you do on your site; called onsite optimization.  70-80% of SEO is what you do on the internet to get noticed by the search engines; called offsite optimization.

Onsite optimization can be learned but I recommend you outsource it to a reputable SEO company.  It’s rather quick to do so it should not cost you more than a few hundred dollars.  In addition, you should be active on your site with fresh new content which is why I recommend a blogging platform as the base for your website.  I use WordPress but there are others such as Blogger, HubPages, Tumblr, Typepad and the list goes on.

I like WordPress because it has a hosted option along with a self hosted option and because it’s open source with a massive number of contributors.  There are plugins that let you virtually do anything with your site or make anything easier.  I guess you can tell I like WordPress.  I also recommend that you self host which can help with SEO in general.

Offsite optimization can also be learned but it involves an ongoing level of activity that now involves social media integration, creating backlinks from reputable sites and overall net activity targeting the correct keywords for your business and webiste.

How long in this process?

Let me put it this way:  Longer than you want it to be, but not as long if you do it right.

Getting your new website to show up in search will depend on the keywords you use when searching but it can take months or even years to get any meaningful traffic from search engines depending on how competitive your business niche is.  That’s too long… I know.

Getting search engine and traffic results faster:

The fastest way to show up in the search engines when you have a new website is to NOT focus on getting your actual site ranked.  The focus should be to rank content instead.

By ranking content, I mean you should submit content to sites that search engines already rank highly and already have a mass amount of traffic.  If you can’t bring the eyes of the world to your site, bring your site to the eyes of the world.

Articles, videos, podcasts and press releases are great ways to get content on the web that points people back to your website.  Submitting articles to article directories has long been a powerful strategy and has the added benefit of building backlinks to your site as well.  Submitting video to various video sharing sites such as Youtube, Google Video, Yahoo Video and others is one of the more powerful and speedy ways to get content to rank and traffic to your site.

By focusing on ranking content vs. ranking your website you will get traffic to your site more quickly and start creating some buzz about your business online.  The ongoing task of ranking your website should continue at the same time that you are constantly adding fresh and relevant content that points readers, listeners and viewers back to your website and assists in backlink creation for site SEO.

Social Media Defined: 101 Social Media Terms

Whether you’ve just jumped in to marketing on the internet or you’re a seasoned veteran, the rapid pace of change in the world of social media is daunting to the say the least.

I for one have to set aside time to make sure I’m up to speed on a weekly basis with the latest trends and opportunities that emerge online.

Hubspot.com is a great resource for all things social media and they’ve put together a strong list of current social media (and all things online) terms that is definitely bookmarkable.

Keep this little dictionary of love at the tips of your keyboard and you’ll never be stumped by social media lingo again… enjoy!

Link To 101 Social Media Terms http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/6126/The-Ultimate-Glossary-101-Social-Media-Marketing-Terms-Explained.aspx?source=Blog_Email_[The+Ultimate+Glossar]

Having a Company Voice

Dick Costello is the CEO of Feedburner.  I recently landed on a post of his that I found intriguing. I especially love his reference to scoring 100 on the dehumanizer and something called the Algernon effect, which I must now research.

His article is powerful because he’s coming from a high level corporate CEO angle but speaks the same language that I often blurt out on this blog.

Check out the article and let me know what you think…


Elvis Is Alive

Sometimes the best lessons are not learned from the teachings of big businesses or superstar marketing gurus. Sometimes the best lessons are learned from every day, need to put food on the table, people who simply master their own universe to make a decent living. Elvis is a prime example: No… not the king of Rock-n-Roll. Rather – the King of Cabs in the Caymans. See the video proof below and find the grand marketing lessons that every business, big or small can and should be doing. Embed video from Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfH9-mLo1VI

–> The big lesson here is about risk: How many cab drivers in the Caymans wish they had Elvis’ following? He’s built himself a consistent lead funnel by endearing himself to his customers. He’s quirky, fun, interesting and he’s a story to tell at the proverbial water cooler.

How many cab drivers sit and wonder why Elvis doesn’t have to vulture for business every day? Building a lead funnel is about building a group of people who like and trust you. Speaking of trust… Do you think Elvis would have this much of a following if he was a horrible guide and slammed into parked cars every other day? Of course not! Quirky as he is, people would not pay him to drive if they felt unsafe. Taking risks does not have to involve the donning of a sweet set of side burns or a hot white jump suit. It involves a willingness to be interesting to your audience in a way that your competition is simply “too dignified” to risk.

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