In part I of this series we covered selecting a topic that you already know and have a passion for. In today’s installment we will cover the remaining three tips on creating content for your niche blog.
Always keep in mind that you are not trying to be all things to all people with your blog. The more you tighten your focus to more targeted your audience will be.
3. Narrow the topic and maintain your focus
In order to rank in the search engines, you want to focus on a few, specific keyword phrases and use them in your content as well as in strategic places on your blog to attract the search engines. But narrowing your focus also helps you to get very clear on your topic and provide exactly what your visitors are searching for. Appearing high in the search results is about providing value for the visitors who search on your keywords.
4. Don’t skimp on keyword research
The most effective way to narrow your search is by doing extensive keyword research. By using a combination of free keyword research tools such as the Google Adwords Keyword tool, and premium keyword research tools such as Micro Niche Finder or Market Samurai, you can drill down to find the best keywords related to your topic that will bring the kind of visitors who are searching for your content.
Use those keyword research tools to kind some long tail keyword phrases (long tail= keyword phrase of four or more words) to really help target your traffic.
5. Strive to become known as a subject matter expert in your topic
As you are creating your content, write with an eye towards becoming known as an expert in your topic. Subject Matter Experts (SME) are looked to as authorities on a topic, they are called in to speak about their topic and people will begin looking to you for leadership and advice. Here’s a blog post about how you can use one of my favorite time-saving tools, Google Reader, to help you become a subject matter expert. http://feigenson.us/blog/?p=1110
A bonus tip is to start early creating relationships with the top blogs and SMEs in your niche. Comment regularly on their blogs and offer to guest post occasionally. This will give you lots of targeted exposure within your niche, and establishes you as a colleague rather than a fan of the top bloggers.
Remember, write about what you are passionate about, don’t skimp on keyword research and brand yourself as an expert and your niche blog will be a success.
On this blog I like to share what I am learning as an online freelance writer and blogger with my readers. I have been on this path for several years, and if anything that I have learned along the way can be helpful to someone who is just getting started, then I am pleased.
The topic of this post came about as a result of a new client inquiry. I had consulted with this prospective client about six months ago about creating some content for a blog that she was thinking about starting. She held on to my information, and when she got her blog all set up she followed up with me about writing some copy for her. She mentioned that her blog was going to be about six different although somewhat related topics.
I replied and told her that while these were all six excellent topics to write about, I cautioned her about how challenging it would be to try to get a single blog to rank for so many different keywords. As I was advising her about narrowing her focus and choosing one topic and delving deep, a little light bulb went off over my head. I felt a blog post coming on. I knew that if this advice would help her it might help my readers, too. So, here are five tips for how to get started with creating content for niche blogging.
1. Select a topic that you already know a lot about
In the beginning you will want to post at least three posts a week, but ideally five posts a week to establish yourself in the eyes of the search engines and your visitors, so you’ve got to pick a topic that you have more than a passing familiarity with so that you can start writing posts about what you already know about the subject. You will still need to do research, but you want to have a firm foundation of personal knowledge to give you an advantage when you start writing.
Another reason to choose a topic that you know about is that it will be a lot easier to begin to develop your authority on that topic, which will come in handy later as you become an expert in your chosen topic.
2. Select a topic that you are interested in and have some passion about
Along with knowing about a topic it’s helpful if you love it and have a passion for it because your passion is infectious and it will shine through in your writing. Your readers who share your passion about the topic will resonate with what you write and become fans, and the quality of the content you create will be better.
OK, so that was part I of this two-part series. Check back tomorrow to find out about how to narrow your focus, do keyword research and establish yourself as a subject matter expert.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave your tips and suggestions for picking blog topics in the comments.
I read Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way, many years ago and I classify it as one of the books that had a tremendous impact on my life as a creative person. If you are a writer or any other kind of artist and you have not yet read it, I will resist the urge to shake my finger at you, rather I will encourage you to get to Amazon or your favorite local bookstore and snatch up a copy right away and then read it.
There are two exercises or practices from that book that I have carried with me throughout my creative life and those are, 1. Morning Pages, and 2. Artist dates. In this post I will focus on morning pages. Julia has made the morning pages pdf http://www.theartistsway.com/pdfs/basictools.pdf document available on her website for those who do not have the book, but I definitely recommend reading the whole book. If you are serious about writing and being an artist it will inspire you and crack you open creatively.
I love the morning pages because it gives you a place to dump those stray thoughts that are circulating in your brain distracting you from your creative and other endeavors. I have been hearing a lot about Morning Pages online and how many people are actually typing them because writing long hand, as Julia recommends in the book, takes too long. Call me ‘old skool’ but I prefer to do my morning pages long hand. There is something about the feeling of the pen in my hand, making letters and words on the page that makes it real. Cameron says about writing out morning pages long hand:
“Writing by hand is like walking somewhere instead of whizzing there in the car. We notice landmarks. We retain a sense of direction. Writing by hand will show us True North and the false directions and switchbacks that have occurred, the shortcuts that saved us nothing and took us nowhere.”
Since I get that some of you live at such lightning speeds that you realistically won’t slow down to write in a journal long hand, I heard about this website called, http://750words.com, where you can, (ugh!) type your morning pages into a private, online journal.
Daily writing is a part of my spiritual practice because they help me to process the messages that I receive from within and much of the flotsam that I am exposed to in my daily life. I call morning pages a tool for transformation because this daily practice–if you are committed to doing it–can lead to amazing insights that you might never have received if you had not slowed down and showed up at the page to do this vital daily practice.
My recommendation is to get your own copy of the Artist’s Way and start a morning pages practice. Get a nice sized journal and a good pen to write with. Try it for a month and see if simply writing out three pages each morning does not transform your creative life in some way.
I am a professional, freelance writer who is still, as yet unpublished. That will soon change. I have been messing around for about two years doing more talking than writing on a book project that is close to my heart. My plan is to stop messing around and get the manuscript completed so that I can get it out there and start getting feedback on it. I have a daily regimen of working on my book after I have completed my client work.
Then I figured that I can’t be the only one who is writing a book but who also needs the nudging, accountability and moral support of others who share the same goal. So, I am putting out a call to those who are writing their first book and would like the encouragement and support of a small group of fellow writers.
I have been thinking about starting a private Facebook group, which will also have an occasional, group conference call where we can all get on the call and gain encouragement and support and just check in with one another. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with the idea. Now I wil talk about what this group is not going to be.
This group is not going to be a step-by-step, hold your hand guide to writing your first book. It is not going to be a venue to advertise your services. The sole purpose of the group is to provide mutual encouragement to one another while we are on the path of trying to write a book while also running a business, raising children and husbands, herding cats, and plotting world domination. We will look at the steps to writing a book, you will gather tips for writing a book proposal, a list of suggested reading materials and have immediate access to a dedicated cheering squad that will help keep you motivated and inspired while simultaneously drowning out the persistent voice of your inner critic.
A major caveat that I must mention is that this group is going to have a spiritual fondation–not a religious one, so no worries about anyone trying to convert you to anything or force you to participate in any odd rituals. I believe that we are all spiritual beings and that we come to this planet, embody physical forms for a period of time and then we move on to other realms of existence. I also believe that as spiritual beings we have a Divine SOurce who inspires us. You don’t have to agree with any of this, but I just want to be clear at the outset that there will be some spiritual content, so if this is objectionable to you, this is not the writing group for you.
There will be a membership fee to join this group, but I am still working out what the monthly dues should be. If you are interested in participating in such a group, please leave a comment, or send me an email at: ebb567 AT gmail DOT com. I am going to create a quick little survey to find out what people want out of such a group and then write a follow-up post.
Please join us if you feel like you’ve got a book in you that is yearning to get out. The world is waiting to hear what you have to say. Imagine how freaking awesome you will feel when you are holding your published book in your hands for the first time. Now let’s get started writing a book together.
Freelance writers who are looking for a side income stream to fill in when client work is low might consider providing blog services to local businesses in their city or town. I’m sure you must be aware of the popularity of providing online marketing services to your local mom and pop businesses. If you already know how to write a blog, then you can put your online writing services to work and get paid to blog.
Of course you’d first need to have your own blog set up and getting a decent amount of traffic so that you can demonstrate your results to prospective clients. If you’ve already got that step down, then the next thing you would do is to pick a niche or topic that you are comfortable writing about, have an interest or passion in and then do a search for local businesses within that topic area. Just doing a quick Google search will tell you a lot about which businesses are web-savvy and which ones aren’t by how they are showing up (or not showing up) in the search results.
When you have found a few businesses that have old, outdated websites that are languishing on the third page of their search results, or if you know of a local business or two that isn’t online at all, you may want to contact them and offer your blogging for business services. You can pick up the phone and call them, or you might consider mailing a postcard with a short description of your services and what results you could generate for them with a blog.
After you have finished creating a blog for a local business, be sure to ask them if they would refer you to some of their local colleagues who might also want a blog. You can create special coupons to give to your clients that they can hand out to their friends extending a special, limited time offer for your services.
Professional blogging can be a fun business, or you can just take the occasional blog setup job in between other client projects, but it’s a great way to earn some extra money with your online writing skills.
I just posted a Mother’s Day Gift Guide at my healthy snack blog, where I unabashedly admitted that it was simply a selection of stuff that I like and stuff that I would not be mad about receiving as a Mother’s Day gift. Well, it looks like I have no shame whatsoever because here I go again doing the same thing on my writing blog.
I’m a mom who loves all things related to books, writing and reading, so I’m pretty easy to shop for. In fact, when my eight-year-old was stumped about what to buy me for Mother’s day, she threw up her hands and said, “Why don’t I just give you a bookstore gift card, because all you ever do is buy books!” What a smart little girl I have. I will ask for an Amazon gift card and then take great pleasure in choosing one of these items:
OK, Hello? Has Santa been ignoring my plaintive requests for a Kindle? I will admit to being a complete, and total book snob, but I have grown fond of the Kindle app on my iPhone. When they first came out I turned up my nose at the Kindle swearing I’d never use one and that they would never catch on. Umm. I was wrong.
I write longhand in a journal each morning and sometimes before I go to bed at night, so I have a bit of a blank book fetish. This one’s got 40 reviews on Amazon, and I think it would make a fabulous gift for the mom who loves to journal or for those who are just getting started keeping a journal.
Does Mommy have a bit of a flair for the dramatic? Is she working on her version of the ‘Great American Novel?’ Give her this fabulous Calligraphy Pen set and she’ll feel like royalty and she might even be inspired to write more often with such a fancy pen.
I am such a fan of Julia Cameron’s work, that if I don’t hold back right now this post will go astray so I will just tell you that Cameron’s work has inspired many writers, and her book, ‘The Writer’s Way,’ was instrumental in my path to giving myself permission to become a writer. I wholeheartedly recommend this book because morning pages will transform your writing practice like almost nothing else can.
I will tell you that i”ve not read this book myself, but with contributors like Maya Angelou, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Ann Lamott, how could you go wrong? It looks like a beautiful, inspiring book about the beauty and pain of motherhood.
So, there are just a few of my picks for Mother’s Day gift ideas. I say just get her a Kindle. I know that if you were my child and you gave me a Kindle for Mother’s Day I’d have a hard time not calling you my favorite child ever.
Have a happy and blessed Mother’s Day, and don’t forget to make your mom feel special.
Passive income is one of those things that’s kind of like the ‘Holy Grail’ of online marketing. Many people who have online businesses are looking for ways that they can generate passive income streams so that they can leverage their time and effort for a return later on. I’m going to share what I am learning about how writing on the web today can lead to passive income down the road.
I’ve been a web content writer for several years now. I love the work, and I enjoy working with my clients and being able to call the shots in my own business. In many ways I’m living a dream that I held for years when I would go to work each day and plop down in my chair in my cubicle in jobs that I did not enjoy but I felt at the time that I had to do them to pay the rent and feed my children.
When I first started out doing web content development and ghostwriting for clients I began to feel like maybe I had traded my 9-5 for yet another dead-end situation because I was still trading time for dollars, but I was not getting paid sick days or vacation days. As time went by I kept my eyes and ears open to the opportunities that were available to me as I learned more about Internet marketing and making money online.
I learned that as a web content developer I could begin to start earning a passive income by writing articles much like the ones I was writing for my clients and publishing them online and getting paid a share of the advertising revenues that the content generated for the site. Now, in addition to the valuable service that I provide to my clients, I am also investing in my future income by maintaining a portfolio of blogs, and writing and publishing content that I get residual payments on month in and month out after having done the work once.
Here are a few ideas for generating passive income for freelance writers:
Blogs can generate passive income in a couple of ways:
Ad revenues: Through programs like Google AdSense or other contextual ad programs you can receive a check each month from the ad revenues that your content generates.
Affiliate marketing: Promoting products that would appeal to your blog’s audience and getting paid a commission when your visitors click on your affiliate link and purchase a product.
Content Sharing Sites:
You write and publish original articles and publish them on these and several other content sharing websites and then get paid monthly for a portion of the ad revenues.
- Hub Pages
- Associated Content
You can create your own product and offer it for sale on your website. This could be an ebook about a topic that you have some knowledge or expertise in, an audio program or a how-to video series. You create the product once, and you continue to get paid for it each time you sell a product.
The trick is to schedule time each week to write and submit content either to your own blogs, or to the content sharing sites. It takes several articles before you start generating more than a few dollars a month, but the good news is that as long as the content is on the site you will keep getting paid.
I came across Michael Port’s book while I was on Amazon purchasing his previous boo, Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling
, for a book club that I had joined on the bizchicksblogs.com When I was browsing the virtual shelf I saw the title: The Think Big Manifesto: Think You Can’t Change Your Life (and the World)? Think Again, and I thought it sounded intriguing so I grabbed that as well. Both titles are on my Kindle app on my iPhone, but I will say that I am giving this one my attention more so than, Book Yourself Solid, for the moment.
I am so inspired by this book. My blog readers know how much I love books, but I love this book because it is all about encouraging people to empower themselves to think bigger and change the world. Port is speaking to those who have been playing small in their lives and trying to just get through the day. He wants people to wake up to the possibilities and the potential that each of us holds to do big, amazing things.
Along with the book Port has started a social networking site, thinkbigrevolution.com, where other fans of the book can congregate and share energy, ideas, inspiration and encouragement.
We live in a world that is so full of disappointment, tragedy and pain, but each of us has the power that God gave us to rise above our present circumstances and aspire to something greater. One of my favorite quotes from the book is this one: “Inspiring others to think big is perhaps the single most important act of any one individual thinking big.” So, if you decide to think big, just by your actions you will influence and inspire those around you to think a little bigger themselves.
It’s like my favorite Margaret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does”
So, if you’re someone with a vision to change the world and impact the lives of others in a positive way, I recommend that you pick up this book, read it, and start a revolution of your own.
Recently I have been hearing a lot about a new buzzword in the blogosphere, “curation.” Since the fall of 2010, it’s been trending upwards because it’s something that most bloggers and online content creators are already engaged in, but now we’re sort of giving it a funky, cool name.
Digital curation, according to Wikipedia, is the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets.
So, content curation, which is what you are already doing when you share a useful blog post that you found on Twitter, posting an update on your Facebook fan page about an emerging industry trend or record a podcast about your topic is all about aggregating and adding your particular spin, knowledge and expertise on the subject.
Curation is an important aspect of marketing when you are part of a community of subject matter experts or authorities on a particular topic. As a member of a tribe of like-minded people, you share your colleague’s content with your network, and they reciprocate and share your content with theirs.
Here are three sources of ‘roundup’ collections of the most popular, currently available tools for content curation. My favorite one these days has been Amplify, but take a look at what’s available and see what you like the best:
Content Curation Tools to Aggregate, Filter, Edit, Curate and Distribute Any Type of Content – updated weekly – - MindMeister Mind Map http://bit.ly/eRe0g1
Let’s use the topic of content marketing as an example. Some of the leading voices in content marketing include people such as Joe Pulizzi, of Junta42 and the Content Marketing Institute.
In a March 2 post Pulizzi writes, “People don’t care about you, they care about themselves. Create content that solves customers’ pain points. Stop talking about yourself, your products, your services. If you do, make it about your customers.”
Brian Clark, CEO of Copyblogger Media, is another one of the prominent voices in the content marketing arena. Copyblogger has been named one of the most popular blogs in the world by Technorati, it’s on the Advertising Age’s ‘Power 150 List,’ and the Guardian named it one of the world’s 50 most powerful blogs.
One of my personal favorite resources at Copyblogger is their, “Magnetic Headlines,” series. When I am creating content and I need a bit of headline inspiration that series is my go-to resource.
Newt Barrett, a content marketing strategist, from Content Marketing Today is co-author with Joe Pulizzi on the book, ‘Get Content, Get Customers.’ Barrett says, “By delivering content that is vital and relevant to your target market you will begin to take on an important role in their lives.”
So, digital content curation puts the curator in the driver’s seat, so to speak allowing them to play the role of human aggregator, but one who adds significant value over simply forwarding a list of links on a particular topic. Curation of the popular topics in your niche can help your content marketing efforts by adding value to the lives of your readers and positioning you as the trusted authority.
Please feel free to share your favorite curation tools, or share a link to your favorite content marketing resources in the comments.
You hear it all of the time when singers or entertainers are being interviewed the interviewer will ask who the artists loved to listen to while they were learning their craft because those are the people who have had an influence on the artist’s work. As a writer or an entrepreneur you are following in the footsteps of those who came before you. You are influenced by your teachers, the books you have read the seminars you have attended, other bloggers, your life experiences, and your general environment.
If you are an online entrepreneur on a mission to constantly improve and sharpen the saw, you’ve got to be purposeful about finding good mentors and establishing a relationship with them that is mutually beneficial for both of you. But I also want to mention that it is possible to establish a relationship with a mentor who is no longer living. Sounds weird, right? But it is possible. I consider author, Napoleon Hill to be one of my top mentors. I was reading his book, The Law of Success, where he mentions assembling a council of imaginary advisers made up of historical figures that inspired him. You can assemble your own imaginary council of advisers and appoint your heroes and mentors to meet regularly and give your guidance and direction.
All you have to do is create a list of people you admire, what qualities they possess that you would like to cultivate in yourself, and what accomplishments they have made that you would also like to make. Visualize them all seated around a table with you in a conference room and begin to seek their counsel. Be sure to write down any ideas or advice they might have to offer you.
As for mentors who are still living, and who are within your reach, make an effort to reach out to them and ask if they would be willing to mentor you. The worst that could happen is that they could say no, but if you do not ask you will not give them the opportunity to say yes. One thing I know for sure is that we teach that which we most need to learn, and when you teach you solidify what you already know. Any prominent person in their field knows that you’ve got to start somewhere, and if they are wise they know that in taking the time to mentor you they deepen their knowledge and skill while also giving back.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to blaze a trail on your own. There are so many successful people out there who are willing and eager to take a novice under their wing and help guide them on their path to achieving their goals. Make the effort to reach out and make a connection with someone that you admire and see if they would mentor you. It can be a rewarding and transformational experience for both parties involved.
So, if you want to develop a new skill cultivate some new habits that will support your success. Be diligent and disciplined, but also have fun with it. And be sure to sign up for my email list so that you can get weekly updates and tips that do not appear on the blog.