Your Weekly Content Marketing Round-Up

cm roundup

Welcome back to the weekly content marketing round-up where I scour the internet to find informative content related to content marketing so you don’t have to!

The round-up now includes 5 ready-to-go tweets.

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The Oldest Ad In The World Was A Piece of Content Marketing

Well, they say everything old is new again and it seems we have come full-circle when it comes to marketing. The oldest piece of content marketing is likely much older than you thought!

LinkedIn Pulse: Oldest Ad in the World

Tweet:

The oldest ad in the world was a piece of content marketing! Who knew?

Finding Inspiration to Write Unbeatable Copy for Landing Pages

This fun article with GIFs interspersed between paragraphs offers 9 potential sources of inspiration for writing killer landing page copy. Suggestions range from spending time with the kids to scanning magazine headlines at the grocery store to skimming our social media feed. As a copywriter myself, I look forward to testing out some of these ideas next time I need some help getting in the zone. 

 

Unbounce: Finding Inspiration to Write Unbeatable Copy for Landing Pages

Tweet:

9 Places to Find Inspiration to Write Killer Landing Page Copy http://ow.ly/aj1M303JbUf #marketing #copywriting

Why Your Lazy Attempts at Copy are Killing Your Conversations

In this much-needed blog post by Neil Patel, he explains why grandiose claims and superlatives are ineffective in our marketing savvy economy.

Even according to Bob Bly’s The Copywriter’s Handbook (highly recommended), written in the 1980’s (1st edition), fluffy, self-congratulatory superlatives like “This amazing course will make you more knowledgeable about sales than the leading experts” will provoke skepticism from your readers.

This is especially true now when 61% of consumers report reading at least 6 objective product reviews online before making a purchase.

Peter Boyle: Why Your Lazy Attempts at Copy are Killing Your Conversions

Tweet:

This copywriting mistake could be killing your conversations. http://ow.ly/UHaB303JdgT #marketing #copywriting

11 Copywriting Principles You Can Implement Today

I like this article, because it lays out 11 concise, actionable tips for writing web copy/online written content:

MAINWP: 11 copywriting principles you can implement today

Tweet:

11 actionable copywriting tips for writing great online written content: http://ow.ly/x6Fo303JhKC #copywriting #contentmarketing

The Quick-and-Simple Guide to Getting Started With Video Content Marketing

Video currently accounts for about 60% of all video traffic and this is a trend that is not slowing down.  In fact, that statistic is predicted to reach 80% by 2019. You do not have to be a professional videographer to experiment successfully with this medium.

In fact, I’ve been shooting a lot of videos on my phone lately for Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Periscope, and more. As a copywriter who usually operates behind the scenes, it’s been fun to build my confidence on camera. Try it! I think you’ll see great results and positive responses.

The Quick-and-Simple Guide to Getting Started With Video Content Marketing

 

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How Blogging Can Lead to Fantastic Opportunities: Interview with Elana Lyn

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In case you missed it, here’s my interview with Elana Lyn Gross in the Huffington Post about how blogging took her to some exciting places.

To read article on the Huffington Post:

Huffington Post: Elana Lyn Gross on How Blogging Can Lead to Fantastic Opportunities

Elana Lyn on How Blogging Can Lead to Fantastic Opportunities

Many people dream of abandoning a hum-drum 9-5 job in favor of a career that allows them to fully explore their passions and talents. Unfortunately, practical realities always seem to get in the way. But, if we get creative and make sure we aren’t overlooking opportunities that could be right in front of us, landing our dream job or starting that new business may be closer than we think.

It is the side-hustlers among us who demonstrate that one doesn’t have to wait for circumstances to change before pursuing one’s goals. And the Internet has made it easier to start a side-hustle than ever before. For one who chooses to put in the time and the effort, the possibilities are endless!

Elana Lyn has been a blogger since 2013. While she always enjoyed putting her thoughts to paper, it wasn’t until after she graduated college and entered the workforce that she discovered how to turn her “hobby” into something that could dramatically transform her personal and professional life.

Elana Lyn’s story exemplifies what can be achieved by going all in on one’s passion and playing to one’s strengths. It also demonstrates how providing value to others and creating a personal brand can give one a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Tell me a little bit about how you got started and what you’re doing now.

After graduating, I became a paralegal at a law firm in New York City. Amidst stacks of briefs, blue books and binders, I realized how much I missed writing, creativity, and truly having ownership of a project. While I checked brief citations and compiled velo-bound documents, posts would go out filled with topics I was passionate about.

When I started my blog, I never imagined that anyone other than my closest friends and family would read it. I certainly never imagined that my blog might help me get hired for new jobs, but that’s exactly what happened. The founder of a women’s career development startup followed me on Twitter, and after writing about her company a few times as well volunteering for them, I was invited to join their team as the social media manager. I discovered that I enjoyed writing both short form and long form content and I started writing for them and other publications.

I currently work at mllnnl, a marketing agency that inspires millennials to co-create our world by sharing the values and organizations we believe in. I work with mostly mission-driven social good organizations that are committed to making an impact. I feel fortunate to like the work I do and my colleagues. I look forward to going to work every day. When I’m not writing at work, I’m writing articles for a few publications and posts for Elana Lyn.

Blogging seems to have landed you some amazing opportunities. What have been the most exciting things to happen as a result of your blog?

I’m excited every time I read a comment or email saying that a post or article has resonated with them and helped them feel more confident. I’ve also had the opportunity to interview inspirational women for my Career Profile series and articles for other publications.

Tell me a little bit about your job, your side-hustle, and how you juggle the two. What does a typical day look like in the life of Elana Lyn?

I am a content strategist at mllnnl, a journalist, and the founder of Elana Lyn, a site that provides millennial women with actionable job search, career, and wellness advice.

I treat Sundays as a workday and write almost all of my blog posts and articles on Sundays. I then send them to editors or schedule them to go up throughout the week. I like scheduling my content ahead of time so that I can get together with friends, go to networking events, go to a museum, and work on pitches, writing, Career Profile questions, and outreach throughout the week. I wake up between 6:30 and 7:00 am on weekdays. I make coffee and head to a gym class, meditation at MNDFL, breakfast with a friend, or a long walk in Central Park. I get some of my best ideas when I’m not at my desk. Having some “me” time in the morning makes me more focused when I get to the office.

I have a long commute from the Upper West Side to Williamsburg and I use it to catch up on the news and do my 15-minute morning routine (inspired by an article I read). The first part of the routine is to write down what you’re grateful for because studies show that it will increase your physical and mental health. The second is to write freely and generate 10 ideas. They can be ideas for your personal or professional life. My go-to morning reads are The Broadstreet, The New York Times Daily Digest, The Skimm, and Buzzfeed News. By the time I get to work, I’m informed, grateful, energized, and ready to hit the ground running. In the evening, I read a professional development book or write an article and post drafts on the notes app on my phone.

I love my full-time job, Elana Lyn, and journalism. While I love writing, the work itself can take up a lot of time. I have to regularly conceptualize and pitch ideas for articles, write articles and posts, and manage brand partnerships and relationships. When you have a side hustle with a full-time job you’re likely to work late nights, early mornings, and weekends. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll have a much greater likelihood of success, in part because you enjoy what you do, and in part because you are willing to put in the hours. That’s where copious amounts of coffee comes in handy!

Many people start blogs, but don’t maintain them. How do you keep up the momentum and continually find new subjects to write about?

I treat Elana Lyn like a job and feel a sense of responsibility toward my readers. I want to constantly publish new content because I’ve received thousands of comments and emails saying that the posts have helped people navigate and feel more confident in an aspect of their personal or professional lives.

Writing can be a solitary pursuit so connecting with readers means so much to me. Motivation doesn’t get better than that! It’s easy to come up with topics because most of my posts are based on my experiences and things I’m talking about with friends and family.

My favorite series is my Career Profile series: I share the stories and career paths of women I admire. We can learn so much from like-minded, successful, driven women! I think that the Internet has revolutionized mentorship – you no longer need to know someone personally in order to learn from her career path and experiences. I’ve learned so much from the women I’ve featured. I find new people to profile in a few ways: I cold email people, I connect to women through mutual friends, I meet people at my favorite networking group, Six Degrees Society, and sometimes I receive pitches from PR companies or from the women themselves.

You’ve been published in a number of places. How did you make that happen?

I started by becoming a contributing writer at a few publications. A lot of those publications had syndication partnerships so my writing got published in publications such as TIME, Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Once I had a number of clips I was proud of, I started to pitch writing for more publications.

What tips can you share with someone who is starting a blog?

Be authentic and develop your own unique “voice.” Let your personality shine through! The posts will be more enjoyable to read and people are more likely to keep coming back because they feel like they know you. Being authentic and genuine is important in all aspects of your life. I think that you can only be happy when you are accepted for being yourself. Of course, strive to be the best possible version of yourself, but don’t try to be someone you’re not. You’ll be more successful if you embrace and celebrate what makes you, you.

Couldn’t agree more.

What’s next for Elana Lyn? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’ve never been very good at being in the present moment. I always try to plan ahead or think about the past. I’ve been meditating and reading about meditation a lot this year and, right now, my goal is to be better at being in the present. That being said, I hope I continue to share meaningful advice, strengthen my writing, work with mission-driven brands, and pursue personal and professional growth every step of the way.

 

Find Your Thing and Go All In

Make a list

Only a few short months ago, I felt like I was a failure.

I felt as if most of my 20’s had been a waste and a long string of personal and professional disasters.

But then, last May, I decided to return to freelancing full-time as a copywriter and content marketing writer. I haven’t looked back since.

What started as a simple, handwritten list of goals and aspirations (pictured above) blossomed in only three short months into a full-fledged business that does more than pay the bills. I’m now making more money than I ever have before, and this time I’m my own boss.

Let’s back up a bit. Why did I think I was a failure?

My Attempt to Work for Others

Zev Photo

For years, I was upset that I was much better at writing than I was at anything else. Why couldn’t I be well-rounded? How could I possibly make a living just from writing?

Diagnosed with ADHD, I struggled in school, hating every second I was forced to learn things that I didn’t find interesting or practical. While I excelled in history and English, I did very poorly in nearly all of the other subjects. I was taught very little about what practical things I could do with my skill set.

I reassured myself that my time to shine would come after I finished school. Of course, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, but I figured that somehow, I’d find a career path that would put all of my creativity, ideas, and restless energy to good use.

But after high school and college, things still didn’t improve. The same people who received amazing grades and went to top schools seemed to be rocking it in the professional world as well. More and more of my friends began to live the “yuppie” lifestyle, not only achieving financial independence, but great jobs with fun office cultures and benefits, nice apartments, vacations, and cars to boot. Engagements and marriages were soon to follow.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t seem to find anything steady. I started freelance copywriting shortly after learning what copywriting was at 24 years-old. But eventually, I caved for a copywriting position at an agency, which didn’t last long.

At the time, I thought that I had to do what everyone else did and find a 9-5/6. It seemed like the reasonable thing to do. Working for yourself was only something you could do once you were “good enough,” I thought. Everyone has to start out working for others, right? Plus, it was an excuse to move away from home.

After losing that job after only a few months, I had a few other short-lived positions that included working at an ecommerce site, a bit of freelance writing here and there, and managing a restaurant.

Looking back at my job history, something becomes crystal clear. In some cases, I was let go. In others, I quit. But in all, I was miserable and I had a different vision from that of my bosses, which occasionally led to clashes.

How I Turned Things Around 

The importance of developing self-awareness cannot be overstated.

It took me until recently to reach the conclusion that being particularly strong in one area was actually a plus. The days of the “Renaissance person” are history. To specialize and find your niche is to succeed in today’s world.

As a society, we focus a lot of time and energy on working on our weaknesses. In schools across the United States, we crush the spirits and dreams of kids who might be our next innovators and visionaries by forcing them to spend more time on the subjects with which they struggle. We rob them from being able to spend more time honing in on what they’re good at. We create a culture of good workers and bureaucrats, but not of fearless freelancers, founders, and entrepreneurs.

While I have gifted friends who are good at almost everything they put their mind to, many of them lack focus and direction, because they can’t stick with any one thing. I also know many brilliant people who can do fantastic work, but only if  someone else tells them what to do.

My problem for the past few years was not that I wasn’t talented enough. It was that I didn’t believe in myself. I spent so much time wondering what was ‘wrong’ with me, trying to cram myself into the mold everyone else seemed to fit so easily.

As soon as I started playing to my strengths and doing things my own way rather instead of trying to do it everybody else’s way, I began to see positive results. Once I started playing the game on my own terms, I set myself up to win.

I now see that even some of the things I was taught to believe were weaknesses can actually be strengths in the right context. Some examples include, stubbornness, a healthy lack of respect for authority, formality, protocol, and hierarchy, and a lack of patience for romanticizing the status quo at the expense of progress.

conference call outside

There’s no victory or prize for being “normal” or average. Not everyone is meant to get good grades, go through years and years of schooling, and land a comfortable job with set hours. This is not a routine we should be taught is for everyone nor should it be held up as the golden “ideal.”

Some of us can only thrive when we create something on our own. Going into business for oneself does indeed mean longer hours and more work, but if the business is centered around a passion, it won’t feel like a pain. Working almost non-stop is a pleasure when there’s no boundary between what you do and what you enjoy. This lifestyle does not fit the vast majority of people, but for some, it’s the only way. For me, there is no other option and I’ve decided that I’m OK with that.

I only began to succeed once I stopped running from destiny and embraced who I am. There’s nothing wrong with only being able to work for oneself. As Seth Godin says, being a freelancer means you get to pick your clients. You also get to pick your projects. Eventually, I hope to transition to entrepreneurship and start a digital marketing company, but for now, I’m enjoying the life of a freelancer. It’s hectic and busy, but I make my own schedule and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Embrace Your One Thing

copywriter hard at worke

If you have a passion for something – even if you’re not sure how to monetize it right now, I urge you to embrace it. Find your thing and go all in on it. Don’t be afraid of failure. Natural talent matters, but it isn’t everything. Whatever it is you’re good at and passionate about, you will still have to work very hard at mastering. In fact, it’s precisely those things for which you show a natural aptitude, that you should work on doubly hard.

What might start out as a side-hobby can evolve into a full-time career. Depending on what it is you’re interested in doing, turning your passion into a business might be much more of a realistic possibility than you realize. Until a few months ago, I thought I had a long way to go before I could write marketing content full-time. Five clients and several leads later, things are progressing rapidly and I’m continuing to experience momentum.

A little push from some friends and mentors (the company you keep is at least as important as the company you start) enabled me to take a chance on myself. Over the past few years, I had truly learned a lot about myself, the business world, and my craft thanks to combination of experience, online courses, videos, articles, and books.

So, don’t try to be like everybody else. Be you! Find what it is you’re passionate about and what you’re good at. Find that one thing you love and start thinking of ways to capitalize on it. You probably have an idea of what that thing is already. I always knew my skill was writing, but I “wrote” it off. Don’t make the same mistake. Don’t say you can’t make money from your one thing, because with the explosion of social media and other forms of online content platforms, you can probably find a way.

Do some soul searching. Get creative. If you feel that you lack sufficient self-awareness to do this, ask your family and friends who know you best for insight.

You may be much closer to success than you think.

 

 

What is Content?

content is

“It’s just an image,” insisted one my client’s staff members. “Not content.”

After a little back-and-forth, I discovered that he didn’t think images were fit to be called ‘content.’ This was not the first time I had a moment of confusion with someone over this issue. Many people are under the impression that content only refers to writing.

In fact, there are a plethora of terms we marketers use that are frequently misunderstood. I strongly believe that defining terms is a great way to ensure we all get on the same page and speak the same language. So, in that spirit, here’s my attempt to break down the “language barrier” and define “content.”

What is Content?

In short, content is any form of communication that entertains, delivers a message, or educates. It can appear in the form of text, images, video, or audio and in a wide variety of mediums, including podcasts, vlogs, infographics, blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, and more.

Writing is what most people think of when they think of marketing content. But text is only one piece of the content marketing puzzle. Content is the stuff brand storytelling is made of. Brands may tell their stories through written content, but they may also tell them through video, which now accounts for well over 60% of internet traffic — a figure expected to increase dramatically by 2019. Or they may communicate through GIFs, audio recordings, photos, or other forms of media.

Should I use text, video, images, or audio?

The answer is: All of the above.

Each form of media plays its role and has its various uses. Furthermore, search engines reward those who regularly update their content on a variety of platforms.

A big mistake many brands make is thinking a blog is enough. It is incredibly important to have an informative and interesting blog that is optimized for search engines and updated frequently and consistently. However, those who don’t experiment with images, video, or audio are missing out on many opportunities for consumer engagement.

But, whatever medium/s you choose for your content, the most important thing to understand is that good content is no longer a one-way conversation.

At one time, brands chose the message they wanted to push onto their audience. Today, most of us tune out advertising. Consumers are savvier, smarter, and have a lot more choices at their disposal. They also have a lot more control over what content they interact with. This means “filler content,” so popular in the early days of the internet, no longer makes the cut.

If you want to win, you have to create content that provides real value for consumers. It’s no longer solely about creating customers. It’s about creating connection.

And the way you create a connection is by getting to know your customers and then creating content that’s focused around them and their specific needs. This takes time and research, but the good news is social media and other recent technological advances have made it much easier to gather data and learn about consumers than ever before.

Responding to the needs of your target audience by creating content that interests, informs, or inspires them creates more than just transactions. It creates relationships.

Taking the time to invest in these relationships pays off greatly in the long-run.