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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6 Principles to Creating Sticky Content

There’s no silver bullet to creating memorable content.

If there was, everyone would use the same ammunition.

Even though this is the case, Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, discovered six principles common to “sticky” messages in their research. A sticky message your audience remembers.

These are extremely helpful principals. I like to refer to them when creating content. I find them to be helpful guides when creating what I hope to be killer content.

Let these principals serve as a guide in your content creation, too. And watch your content stick to your audience like a velcro ball to a self-stick disc paddle.

Velcro Tennis

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How-To Create an Editorial Calendar

Every author faces the same challenge: creating consistent content. Last week we explored how creating an editorial calendar is the best single tool authors can use to help sustain their work. From increased creativity, quality, effectiveness, and more, there are a ton of helpful benefits to creating editorial calendars. Today we’re going to look at how you can create your own editorial calendar.


Creating an editorial calendar doesn’t have to be complicated.

Sure, for magazines, news organizations, or multimillion dollar ad campaigns, there’s a lot of moving parts. But for authors or even multi-author sites, editorial calendars can be simple and straightforward. So, rid yourself of the notion that this is a Herculean task.

Before moving forward. There are a few housekeeping items I want to run by you first.

It’s important to determine how much time you can commit to creating content. Your experience and life circumstances (relationship and family status, employment, etc.) will influence how much you can create.

I suggest starting slow if you’re new to content creation. Get a feel for how quickly you can create content. Adjust your schedule to make room. Discover how your day-to-day life responds.

It will be important to keep track of how much time it takes to write, edit, rewrite, and format your content. (For starters, carve out four hours per 600-800 blog post.)

You may need to start out with one piece of content per week and that’s totally fine. It takes time to learn how to use a content management system like WordPress, format posts, get images, and more.

Most importantly of all—get started. Poke the box. That’s the main thing.

Stay humble. Learn. Grow. And adapt over time. You will get the hang of things as time progresses.

In the meantime, here’s the nitty-gritty to creating an editorial calendar. You can use this template to help you map out blog posts, podcasts, emails, and more

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9 Reasons Why Every Author Needs an Editorial Calendar

There is one challenge all authors face.

Creating consistent content.

From the demands of writing your book, blog posts, updating your social media, and more, every author will face the challenge of consistently creating content.

You find those moments of inspiration. Conjure up a flurry of ideas. Knock out a few quick ideas. And then…nothing.

Your well runs dry. The ideas begin to cease. And the demands of your day-to-day life provide you with little time to no time to do anything about it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re creating one piece of content per day, week, or month. Every author at some point-in-time will wrestle through difficult seasons of content creation—especially if you’re a solo creator of content.

As an author and blogger myself, I know this feeling all too well. (Not in a Taylor Swift way, though.)

Though I’ve previously served full-time as Content Manager and Strategist, I personally don’t have a team of editors, graphic designers, web developers, and video crew to help support my work.

Like you I have to make little sacrifices along the way to create something I believe is worth sharing. (Creating time to write with a full-time job, wife, and four kids is no small task.)

But there’s one thing I believe that can help you and me sustain the work we are inspired to create. And that’s creating an editorial calendar.

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9 Powerful Mental Triggers to Pull When You Launch Your Book

From Jeff Walker, Launch:

1. Authority

People tend to follow others in positions of authority. Think about doctors in their white coats…If you want to be more influential in your business and marketing, it pays to be seen as an authority…

2. Reciprocity

Reciprocity is the idea that if someone gives something to us, we will feel some obligation to give them something back in return…When you give out [free and helpful] content, you’re creating a large reciprocity imbalance…In the end, when you ask for something back, your prospect will have a greater tendency to want to reciprocate…

3. Trust

Building trust is the ultimate shot circuit to becoming influential in someone’s life…One of the easiest ways to create trust is through time.

4. Anticipation

…Anticipation is omen of the triggers that allows you to cut through the marketing fog. It lets you grab your market’s attention and not let go…If you use anticipation right, people will put the date on their calendar and look forward to your launch. It’s like you’re putting your prospects into your storyline. They can’t wait for the next installment, they can’t wait to see what’s going to happen, [and] they can’t wait to get your product.

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5. Likability

The simple fact is that we enjoy doing business with people we know, like, and trust. We are more influenced by people we like than those we don’t like…When you’re seen being gracious, kind, generous, and honest…well, people will like you more. And the more likable you are, the more influence you will have.

People generally like to do business with other people more than with a large faceless corporation.

6. Events & Ritual

When you turn your marketing into an event, then you instantly make your marketing truly magnetic. People log events, and they get pulled in by them. It makes them feel as though they are part of something bigger than themselves…When people go through an event together, it becomes something of a ritual. Rituals pull people together and create some of the most powerful experiences we as human beings can have.

7. Community

Community is a very powerful mental trigger. We act in accordance with how we think the people in our community are supposed to act…Once you get people interacting with you, with your marketing, and with each other, you’re on your way to forming a community.

8. Scarcity

Scarcity is one of the most powerful mental triggers in existence, period. It’s simple—when there is less of something, we want it more…One of the things that scarcity does is force people to make a decision…To create a well-executed launch, you absolutely need to build scarcity into that launch.

9. Social Proof

Social proof is the idea that if we see other people taking action, then we will be inclined to take that action as well. Typically we take fuse from the people around us when we’re unsure of how to act.

Content adapted from Jeff Walker’s, Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams (New York, NY: Morgan James Publishing, 2014), 61-68.

 

 

“Some” Christians Can Change the World

The church wasn’t going to be the same.

The gospel of Jesus Christ was breaking new ground in dramatic ways.

Beginning from Jerusalem, the gospel rapidly advanced throughout the area. And the message of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection was being proclaimed exclusively to the Jewish population.

This was about to change.

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God was preparing his people to reach beyond their comfort zone by proclaiming the gospel to the non-Jewish—Gentile—population for the first time.

God expressed his desires originally to the Apostle Peter by revealing them to him in a vision. He then confirmed his intention when the Holy Spirit visibly came upon a group of Gentiles who heard the gospel proclaimed for the first time (Acts 10).

At this point the church decided that they must make a concentrated effort to reach the non-Jewish people—and consequently the world—with the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 11:18, 20).

From here God didn’t decide to launch this new shift with mind blowing miraculous deeds. He didn’t send in the “big guns” like Peter and Paul to orchestrate this change. And he didn’t even need a platform.

God carried out this new work through “some” people.

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12 Quick Tips for Marketing Your Book

1. Clarify Your Motivation

There are multiple reasons why someone desires to write a book.

Clarifying your motivation will help you better identify your marketing tactics.

Unearthing your motivation will also provide the foundation for your marketing plan.

2. Define Your Audience

Writing a book is not like writing in your personal journal. You’re writing for a public audience, not yourself.

Knowing who your audience is will not only help you connect with them—it will keep you sane.

The options available today to market your book are endless. You don’t have the time or resources to promote your work everywhere people are online. And besides, your book isn’t for everyone. So it doesn’t need to be everywhere. Just where your audience is spending time.

You have permission to not be all things to all people.

Define your audience. Discover where they spend their time online, who they follow, what their favorite websites are, and more. This knowledge will help you concentrate your efforts and create meaningful connections with your audience.

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The Newbie’s Guide to Pinning a Tweet

Tweets are like a mist.

They appear momentarily. And then they’re gone.

But not forever.

They vanish from your followers newsfeed into the hole of your timeline.

But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Twitter provides a way for you to highlight specific tweets for your followers.

Twitters not-so-recent redesign placed a greater emphasis on user profiles. This means that your current and would be followers may spend more time on your profile—not just their newsfeed.

You can help potential followers see your best content by “pinning a tweet.”

Pinning one of your tweets will tack that specific tweet to the top of your timeline. It will be the first tweet people see on your profile when they view it directly. (It will also stand out from the rest of your tweets since “Pinned Tweet” and an icon will be placed in the top left-hand corner of your tweet, too.)

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to pin a tweet.

Below is the newbie’s guide to pinning a tweet to help get you started.

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6 Tips to Help Your Writing Connect with Your Mobile Audience

Words do not exist in a vacuum.

They take shape and form as we mold them together and deliver them through the various mediums available today (e.g., visual, audio, print, and digital).

The tips for writing killer content online are applicable to producing amazing content for your mobile readers, too. However, the way you format, structure, and support these words on your site play a significant role into how well your audience can read your content on their phone.

Below are six often overlooked elements that will help connect with your mobile audience and provide them with an amazing reading experience.

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15 Ways You Can Build Marketing Tools Directly Into Your Book

Rob Eagar, author of Sell Your Book like Wildfire,

1. Reader Quizzes

A well-crafted quiz can build emotional curiosity and desire within people to buy your book…

2. List of helpful questions or communication scripts

…You can use your expertise to educate and assist people by providing a list of specific questions to ask or a script to follow that guides them down the right path…

3. How-to articles

…You want to maximize the power of the article and increase your ability to use it as a portable marketing tool that can work in different formats, both online and off. If your article is good, it will lead the reader to believe that your book is even better.

4. Bonus back matter and appendices

…Seed business books with sample scripts that readers could use with clients, diagrams and worksheets for strategy meetings, resource and vendor guides to find outside labor, or employee hiring questionnaires…

5. Study guides

An integrated study guide can also be used to boost group sales of a book…I recommend putting study materials or discussion questions at the end of reach chapter, than the appendix because it’s easier for the reader to follow along…Depending on the nature of your content, you could also include a separate guide that helps leaders foster group interaction with your book…

6. Key research or statistics

If your book is focused around important research, consider creating a stand-alone marketing tool based on the summary of your key findings…

7. Exclusive or rare content

If your manuscript is a memoir or biography, you could include a section of exclusive photos, letters, or documents made available only within your book…

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8. Author interview or Q&A section

Book shoppers appreciate authors who explain why they wrote their book, what drove them through the process, and what led them to the book’s conclusion…

9. Add bits of humor: cartoons, jokes, top ten lists

…If you have funny jokes, cartoons, pictures, or top ten lists pertinent to your book’s teem, you can build them into your manuscript…

10. Maps, drawings, or illustrations

…any manuscript can benefit from pictures. Authors can include maps, behind-the-scenes photos, drawings, how-to illustrations, or pictures  of the book’s main settings…

11. Resource guides

You can also add value to your book by offering a guide to additional resources…

12. Secret codes to web-based content

…Consider…creating a unique website or set of hidden web pages that is only available to those who buy your book…

13. Bonus audio and video content

…You can provide readers with a behind-the-scenes look at your life, author videos, instructional audio tracks, lost chapters, success stories or artwork…

14. Teasers and cross-promotion

…promote related items that you sell…By including cross-promotional content within your book, you make it easier for reader to discover your other works and make a purchase.

15. Integrate multimedia with QR barcodes

Modern technology has made it possible for authors and publishers to incorporate audio, video, website links, and imagery directly onto a printed page. This feature is based on using QR…barcodes embedded in your manuscript…
Content adapted from Rob Eagar’s, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire: The Writer’s Guide to Marketing and Publicity (Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, 2012), 58-66.

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