5 Tips to Help You Craft Clear & Compelling Messages

From my guest post at Inkliss:

There was a moment of silence.

Not the type of silence that deafens a room during a memorial service. Nor the type of silence preceding a lame scare tactic in a movie.

But the type of deafening silence that fills the room when you’re waiting for feedback from your manager.

“He hates it. He’s going to hate me. I’ll need to look for another job”

These exaggerated thoughts didn’t necessarily run through my head. But they do capture an element of what I was thinking.

Honestly, I don’t recall the specific task I was working on. But the feedback I received stuck to me like a Velcro ball to a Velcro mitt. And it went something like this: “Tell people exactly what you’re talking about.”

Fighting Two Devils

Clear communication is a difficult task—especially within the church.

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Christian communicators wrestle with the temptation to use Christian clichés, $20 theological words, and pithy Christian platitudes, while fighting the pressure to be hip, cool, and relevant. It’s like trying to think straight when you have a devil on both of your shoulders telling you what to do.

Crafting clear messages is one of the most important tasks of the church. Connecting the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Bible to the Average Joe sitting in the pew is of eternal importance.

Here are five practices to help you cut through the clutter and craft clear, concise, and compelling messages for your audience. 

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6 Reasons Why Content Marketing for Authors Works

Marketing your book is no joke.

You are vying for the limited attention and dollars of readers within an extremely crowded marketplace.

In 2013, there was nearly 1.5 million books (new titles and non-traditional) published. And this doesn’t include the number of books in circulation. Needless to say, that’s a lot of books.

Now, when you consider that the median number of books read by adults in 2013 is 5, you have a small percentage chance of your book being one of the five bought by adults. But hey, look at the bright side. You’re chances of selling a book are better than being killed by a lightning strike.

Unfortunately, the challenges of promoting your book haven’t stopped.

Publishers and authors are not only competing with one another. They’re also competing with the entertainment industry for consumers time and money. And the amount of money being spent to market products and services today is mind-boggling:

You have your work cut out for you when it comes to convincing someone to purchase—let alone read—your book.

My goal in sharing this with you isn’t to dash your dreams of successfully publishing your book against the rocks. It’s more like waving a smelling salt under your nose to wake you up after being knocked out.

Hope is the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Reality checks are important,

Clearly seeing the current publishing landscape will help you best prepare, write, and market your book.

Though I just painted a dark picture, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The light you see at the end is not an oncoming train—it’s hope.

As an author, you can rise above the noise, cut through the clutter, and connect with your readers. And you don’t have to take out a television ad during the Super Bowl, a billboard in Time Square, or have a multimillion dollar marketing campaign, either.

There are multiple tactics for you to consider when marketing your book. But there is one strategy that you cannot afford to miss.

Enter Content Marketing for Authors

Content Marketing is not a new concept. It’s been around for years.

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It’s a strategy proven to be effective across every industry and many—if not most—products and services.

Today, for authors, content marketing is arguably one of the best means available in building an audience, creating direct relationships with your readers, and compelling your target audience to purchase your book.

It’s one of the primary strategies used with many bestsellers across multiple genres.

There are many factors why this is the case. But below are six reasons why I believe content marketing works for authors. (As an aside, I believe these reasons are applicable to other industries, products, and services, too.)

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1 Option to Consider Before Converting Your Facebook Profile to a Page

Facebook is the anti-social social network.

They cap the number of friends that über-popular people can have at 5,000. This means no more friends for you.

Even though you cannot have more than 5,000 friends, you do you have few options available:

  1. Maintain your current status
  2. Convert your Facebook Profile to a Page
  3. Keep your Facebook Profile and create a separate Facebook Page
  4. Provide people with the ability to follow you

Obviously you can keep doing what you’re doing. There won’t be any skin off of your back if you do. But there will be a lot of hurt feelings from people who cannot be your friend on Facebook.

There are a variety of reasons for you to consider converting your Facebook Profile to a Facebook Page, questions to ask, and a smattering of pros and cons to ponder. This option may or may not be for you. And that’s okay.

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Keeping your Facebook Profile and creating a separate Facebook Page can be an easy solution. If you go this route, then you will have to start from scratch. Yes, you can invite your friends to follow your page, but there’s no guarantee they will. Also, make sure that you’re in a position to maintain both accounts. You don’t want the sound of crickets radiating throughout either of your accounts.

There is one last option for you to consider before deciding whether or not to convert your profile to a page. And that’s providing people who want to connect with you on Facebook the ability to follow you.

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The Newbie’s Guide to Creating a Social Media Calendar

Social media can be overwhelming.

There is a growing number of networks and virtual communities to choose from.

The learning curve is elastic and regularly changes based upon user behavior, technological advances, and the introduction of new devices. These factors alone create a hurdle too high for many to cross who are interested in exploring social media marketing.

But this doesn’t have to be the case.

You don’t need an advanced degree, secret knowledge, or ninja skills to become proficient in social media marketing.

All you really need to know at the end of the day is that social media marketing is really about one thing: being social.

Yes, I know. This is easier said than done.

There’s an art to curating and creating content for the purpose of connecting with and compelling people to action. Thankfully, this art isn’t something you’re born with. It’s something all of us can learn.

One of the best tools available to help you organize your social media content creation and curation is to create a social media calendar. A calendar to help you connect with your audience—not shamefully promoting your own work.

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To help you get started, here are five-steps you can take to create your own a social media calendar.

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Live Together as Brothers or Perish Together as Fools (A Devotional Thought on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

“We must face the sad fact that at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning,” began Martin Luther King, Jr., “when we stand to sing ‘In Christ there is no East or West,’ we stand in the most segregated hour of America.”

Much hasn’t changed for the church, or our nation, since these words were first proclaimed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the pulpit of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. in 1968. A message that was proclaimed days before his untimely death at the hands of an assailant in Memphis, TN.

Today, these words unfortunately paint an accurate picture of the current landscape of our communities, culture, and the church. A landscape littered with dividing walls. Walls not made of concrete, bricks, or chain-links to physically separate us from one another. But walls that derive from the invisible force of the human heart.

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Walls that are temporal in nature.

Walls that can be erected at any place. At any time. By any man, woman, or child.

These walls have existed throughout history since the fall of mankind.

And these invisible barriers existed in the life of the early church before God tore them down.

God, Tear Down This Wall

God does not show favoritism to any one person or group (Acts 10:34). All men and women have been created in his image and the projected walls that separate us socially have no room in our world—especially the church.

In Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. Our race, ethnicity, or bank account is not the common denominator for social acceptance in the church—Jesus is.

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Church, Where’s Your Front Door?

Yesterday, I had the honor of publishing a post on ChurchMag: The #1 Resource for Church Technology + Creativity, 4 Things Your Church Website Must Do.

Here’s the opening salvo:

“If a church…can’t be Googled, for many people it doesn’t exist.”This comment was true when it was made several years ago. And if it’s possible for statements to become truer over time, then this one fits the bill.

Unscientific studies indicate that between 75% to 90% of people will visit your website before your physical location. Others indicate that people will visit over one dozen church websites before visiting a church’s physical location. And many—if not most—people visiting your church’s website will make a decision whether or not to visit your church’s physical location solely by their online experience alone.

What all of this points to is one simple conclusion: The front door of your church has been relocated.

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It’s no longer located at the physical address of your church.

It has been moved to your digital address. Your church website.

With this post, I discuss how a church’s website should serve as an extension of the local church. And as an extension of the church, a church’s website should do four very specific things—especially lead people from your digital front door to your physical front door.

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You Can Consistently Create Content and Maintain Your Sanity

Let’s face it.

Changes in consumer behavior have made life for the vast majority of writers difficult.

The days of secluding yourself in a cabin in the woods to write your book are virtually over for most writers. And books are transforming into one format among many to convey your message to your audience.

As an author you will need to create content that connects with your audience in whatever format they prefer. Whether it’s your book, a blog post, podcast, or social media, your goal as an author is to deliver your message through whatever format your audience prefers.

(Pause to let that comment sink in.)

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If you haven’t realized it yet, this is a ton of work.

Unless you have the support of a team, family, or friends, you’re flying solo in creating all of this content.

No Room to Spare

Getting your message out as an author is difficult business.

From the demands of crafting a mind-blowing manuscript, building your audience, developing your social media presence, and more, there’s a ton on your plate with little to no room to spare.

Building and maintaining an audience takes a ton of work, patience, and perseverance. This may feel like a Herculean task that leads you to not even pick up the challenge. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

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Turn Your Book into a Content Marketing Machine by Repurposing Your Content

Creating consistent content is a struggle for every author. Over the past three weeks I’ve explored why creating an editorial calendar is the best tool to help sustain authors in creating consistent content. And how-to create an editorial calendar and fill it with an endless source of content ideas. Today I’m going to look at how you can turn your book into a content marketing machine by repurposing your content. 


Writing a book is not a sprint.

And completing your manuscript is no longer the finish line. It’s not the time you get to stop, bend over with your hands on your knees, and catch your breath.

Today, writing a book is more akin to running in a relay race.

You see, for the vast majority of writers, the fanciful notion of sitting in a cabin, in a secluded location, with yourself, your pen and paper, write a book, turn it in to your publisher, and sit back and wait for it to become a bestseller is virtually over.

Books are transforming into one format among many to convey your message to your audience.

Writing a book is like passing a baton from one format to another. From conveying your message in print form, to passing it off to audio, to video, to blog posts and social media, and more, you will experience a plethora of exchanges when communicating your message.

Let me explain.

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Today people consume information through multiple mediums. From books, newspapers, and magazines, to social media, blogs, podcasts, and videos, people are consuming content in a variety of ways. In the words of Yael Kockman, Head of Marketing and Community for Roojoom, “…Everyone is different…[and they] consume information in different ways, from different sources, and from different kinds of mediums.”

Some people within your target audience may prefer to read your book, whereas others may prefer to listen to an audiobook, watch a video, or digest small segments of your work via blog posts and social media.

Your goal as an author is to take your message and deliver it through whatever format your audience prefers.

Gasp!

Yes.

I know.

This is a ton of work. And much easier said than done.

The options available to deliver your content to your audience today are nearly countless. And in reality, these options will continue to grow and your audience’s preferences will continue to change, too.

This new reality should not discourage you from connecting with your audience. You can create meaningful, direct relationships with people without collapsing of fatigue, losing your hair, or dying of a heart attack.

Let me show you how.

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Your Guide to Creating an Endless Source of Content Ideas

Creating consistent content is a struggle for every author. Over the past two weeks I’ve explored why creating an editorial calendar is the best tool to help sustain authors in creating consistent content. And how-to create an editorial calendar. This week I’m going to take a look at how you can create an endless source of content ideas to fill your editorial calendar with. 


There is one thing every piece of content has in common.

It’s not an image.

It’s not scannable content.

And it’s not a pithy title.

The one thing every piece of content has in common is an idea.

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Whether you have an idea to share, a story to tell, or a funny joke, you have to have an idea before moving forward. A big idea you want to get across to others.

And creating new ideas is difficult business, too.

Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to either create or plan for the creation of nearly 1,000 blog posts, various eBooks, social media plans, and more. Before placing the proverbial pen to paper, marking up posts with HTML, or locating an image to capture the topic, I needed at least one idea to get the ball rolling.

During my time serving as a Content Manager for a non-profit organization, we were publishing between 5-10 posts per week. (This doesn’t include the material for different channels and mediums I reviewed.) Some of these posts were standalone pieces. Some posts were for special occasions. And some posts were part of a multi-part series.

Before creating any of this content, the team and I needed an idea.

Sometimes these ideas were delivered by a bolt of lightning. Sometimes they were the combination of various things we were reading, watching, or listening to. And many, if not most, of these ideas were the result of diligence.

Regardless of the source of your ideas you will need them in order to create consistently killer content.

Being in a position to develop multiple ideas led me to use various tools and techniques. There are countless ways people come up with ideas. But below are 10 that I have found extremely helpful. I hope you too find them helpful when thinking through what your next piece of great content will be.

But First…

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