Internet Research For Content Creation: Tools – SEOGadget Idea Creator

This is part of a series of posts on different methods and tips for how to do research on the internet for content creation.

I could not be more excited about this next tool that we are discussing today. Searching for information on different topics can take literally hours and hours of work. All of the different search sites, Twitter, and YouTube can have key information about your topic, but without enough time, you may miss some important resources.

Not anymore. With this unbelievable free tool from SEOGadget, you can aggregate everything into a single spreadsheet that is saved on Google Docs. Here’s an example:

I type in ‘Content’ into cell B3. Immediately results from Google News, Bing News, Digg, Reddit, YouTube, Topsy, blogs, Yahoo Answers, and even more were available, giving me key information on who is talking about content creation and what they are saying.

With all of this information at your fingertips, creating great content is a breeze. You don’t need to run through hundreds of Google results looking for relevance, and then move on to Bing, Yahoo, and others. The SEOGadget Idea Creator does it all for you. This is a top-notch free tool, and it is definitely going in the Top 5 of my content creation techniques.

Once you have all the data in front of you, you can easily use one of the two content creation systems discussed last week – you can put your notes in a document and write from there (the Brain Dump method) or you can map your ideas to create an outline of your piece (the Mind Map method).

Here’s a link to SEOGadet’s new tool – enjoy!

 

What is your favorite way to get ideas from multiple sites at once? Let me know in the comments!

Anna


Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Internet Research For Content Creation: Tools – Topsy

This is part of a series of posts on different methods and tips for how to do research on the internet for content creation.

Last week we looked at two different ways to organize the information to you find while doing internet research for content creation. This week we will be looking at different research tools that can be very helpful in your content research.

Today, we’re looking at Topsy, a tool that searches both Twitter and Google+ quickly and effectively. With this dual capability, and already useful tool becomes even more exciting. Topsy allows you to see what topics are trending right now and what people have to say about them. Because many people tweet or post links to relevant articles, you also end up with a wealth of detailed information.

Why Use Topsy?

If Twitter and Google+ have a built-in search, why go to an alternate resource to find out what is being said? Simply put, Topsy gives you more relevant, more specific results than a single search source.

 

  • Topsy’s Twitter results allow you to create an RSS feed that you subscribe to containing the most recent results of your search. This is fantastic for ongoing research.
  • Topsy gives you search results based on relevance or most recent posts/tweets; it’s your choice
  • You can limit the time range of results to anything from the past hour to the past 30 days. There’s even an option for ‘all time’ (aka, back to 2008).
  • You can search specifically for things like photos, videos, or links that have been tweeted or posted on Google+
  • You can search for results in a variety of languages, which is very important for international companies
  • A new feature allows you to search based on what ‘experts’ in your field are saying on either network. Experts are determined by an influence algorithm that measures mentions, retweets, and shares of content. 

 

When doing research online, you want to know what topics are trending and what folks have to say about them. With 140 million users on Twitter and 100 million active users on Google+, Topsy distinguishes itself as a tool that can get you outstanding information. The best part is that it’s free! With a tool like Topsy, there’s no excuse for not knowing what topics are important online today.

Do you use Topsy? What have your results been? Let me know in the comments!

Anna Brown 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Internet Research for Content Creation: The Mind Map Method

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This is part of a series of posts on different methods and tips for how to do research on the internet for content creation.

 When writing content for yourself or your clients, internet research can be an important part of how you educate yourself about the topic. Earlier this week I talked about an internet research method I often use which I call the Brain Dump method. Today, we’re discussing a different technique, the Mind Map method.

 Where the Brain Dump is about getting a lot of information in one place so that you can write from your notes, the Mind Map is about building connections between information. These two techniques can actually be used together – the Brain Dump can get your data for you, and the Mind Map can help you organize it so you can write. You can also use the Mind Map directly from your internet research to help you come up with several different angles or articles from one main topic. That’s the technique we’ll talk about today.

Step One: On a Piece of Paper, Write Your Main Topic in the Middle. This is the overall topic you are writing content about, without any slant. For this article, I might write ‘Internet Research’.

Step Two: Find Out What People Want to Know. For this step I like to use online question sites, such as Quora or Yahoo! Answers. You can also Google your topic, using a term like ‘Internet Research Questions’.

Step Three: For Every Question or Sub-Topic, Make a Branch. From your central term, draw a line and at the end of the line write a sub-topic or question you found. These will be the sub-points in your main content, or perhaps the subjects of several smaller pieces of original content.

Step Four: At the End of Each Branch, Make More Branches With Data or Information. This step will help you flesh out your paragraphs or smaller articles. What data did you find to answer the question? What resources are available? What ideas do you have on the topic?

Step Five: From Your Mind Map, Write! Once you have a sufficient number of branches and sub-branches containing questions and key information, it’s time to write. You can take one of two approaches, as I’ve alluded to here. You can create content once on the main topic, using your branches as paragraphs or sub-topics; or you can use the branches to create several smaller pieces of original content that each focus on a single issue.

Step Six: Edit. Insert necessary keywords, re-read the content a couple of times, and check for grammar or spelling errors.

Step Seven: Publish! You’re done! You’ve created excellent original content that addresses real user questions and issues. Great job!

 The Mind Map is my favorite method for brainstorming about a topic, and for creating series of posts or articles. It’s a great way to see everything on paper and to be able to easily see the relationships between all the pieces of information you’ve gathered. I only wish I knew how to mind map in college!!

 Do you use mind mapping when you write? How do you organize content before you write? Let me know in the comments!


Anna Brown 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Internet Research for Content Creation: The Brain Dump Method

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Today I’m beginning a series of posts on different methods and tips for how to do research on the internet for content creation.

 When you sit down to create content on a topic, you don’t always know everything you’d like to about the issue, especially if it has been assigned to you by a client. Doing research on the internet is an important way to quickly educate yourself about a topic so that you can go on to write your original content efficiently and professionally.

 Doing internet research on a topic is not about copying others, and it is not about finding a way to shortcut or echo other people’s ideas. The internet contains a wealth of information about a huge variety of subjects, and it can help you understand your topic well enough to create your own original article or blog post. Educated, original content is the goal of all of the internet research methods I will be sharing.

 Today, I’d like to start with my personal favorite internet research technique, which I call ‘The Brain Dump Method’. The Brain Dump is about getting as many different facts and ideas in one place as possible, and then going through the notes and writing your article. This method is very simple and has worked incredibly well for me.

Step One: Open a Blank Document. This is where you will dump all of your notes and ideas.

Step Two: Open a Browser Window. As in, ONE browser window. It’s important when doing internet research that you close all distractions, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and perhaps even email.

Step Three: Enter Search Terms Relevant to Your Topic. If I’ve been assigned a title, I often start with that. If not, I simply come up with relevant terms. For instance, if you are writing an article about dog training, you’d search ‘dog training’ or ‘dog training tips’.

Step Four: Visit Relevant Sites and Scan for Information. From the search results, quickly determine which seem the most relevant and reputable for your topic. Visit the site or article, and quickly scan for relevant information. Don’t take the time to read thoroughly at this point. Just look for relevant snippets.

Step Five: Copy and Paste to Your Open Document. This is the ‘dump’ part. Start with the URL of the site you are on (for appropriate reference if needed). Then, copy and paste any paragraphs or sentences that you think help you understand your topic or could help you create your original content.

Step Six: Repeat Steps Three – Five. Repeat steps three through five until you have a few pages of information about your topic. How much you need is dependent on how long the content you create needs to be.  

Step Seven: Review Your Notes. Once your research is done, re-read the notes you’ve created in the document. Add any of your own thoughts and ideas. Save this document in case you ever need to create content on this theme again.

Step Eight: Write! With your research complete, you should have a great understanding of your topic and a really good idea where you want to go with your own content. Now is the time to put the article or post together in a separate document. Refer to your notes as often as needed.

Step Nine: Edit. Once you’ve completed your original content based on your internet research, it’s time to re-read and edit. This is also a good time to insert whatever keywords are needed to optimize your content. I find I write poorly if I try to think about keywords in the draft stage.

Step Ten: Publish. That’s it! You’ve successfully done the internet research necessary to create content and publish it. Great job!!

Not all content can be created using only internet research, especially if you need a complete bibliography. However, this type of research can go a lot farther than most people realize. There are lots of reputable sites with a ton of great information about a huge variety of issues. Internet research using the Brain Dump Method can help you create excellent, original content in no time.

Do you use internet research when you create content for blogs or other online venues? What’s your favorite method? Let me know in the comments!

 

Anna Brown 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Six Easy Steps to a Great Content Management Strategy

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Everyone has heard that ‘content is king’. However, creating great content doesn’t just happen – you need a clear strategy for moving forward. Fortunately, creating a clear content strategy isn’t difficult. It just takes a bit of thought about where you are and where you are going. Here are six easy steps for creating a content management strategy.

1.     Write down words that describe where you are now. These words shouldn’t all be negative. Some ideas are ‘growing’, ‘stuck’, or ‘well-targeted’.  Think about your company’s current position and write down an honest assessment.

2.     Write down words that describe where you want to be. This is your vision to start moving toward. Don’t worry about ‘being realistic’ – you won’t go any farther than your vision, so really decide where you want to go!

3.     Create Content Management Goals. From your lists in numbers 1 and 2, write out three content management goals to focus on in your content strategy. These goals should follow the SMART concept – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

4.     Pick Your Top 3 Goals. Because content strategy needs to be focused and consistent, you can’t pursue all of your content goals at the same time. Pick your top three and use them as your focus points.

5.     Create a Content Schedule. Content creation has to be very consistent. In order to achieve your goals, you will need a schedule laid out and activities assigned to specific people. Everyone on your content team should know what their assignment is. Breaking it into pieces will make the plan more manageable.

6.     Create Content! This is the action piece – get it done! Once you’ve laid out your goals, picked your top three, and made the schedule, the only thing left is execution. Follow up regularly to make sure that everything is going according to plan and that everyone on your team is creating content on schedule.

Once you’re moving forward on a content strategy, you need to review it often – at least every six months. For a particularly active plan, you may need a more frequent review. ‘Where you are’ changes – at least, it should! – and you many need to review these steps again. New goals may arise. Your team or schedule may change. Frequent reviews ensure that your content management plan is continuously effective.

 

What elements do you put into a content management plan? Let us know in the comments!

 

Anna Brown 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Stop Being Perfect and Start Getting Work Done

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Everyone wants to do the best work they possibly can. Especially in content marketing, it’s really important to turn out the best product every time. In addition, the deadlines can be constant – because great marketing requires regular content updates, the pressure can easily build. It can be easy to want to be perfect every time. 

But I have something to tell you. Stop. Being perfect will keep you from producing your best work.

How Perfect is Different than Excellent

It seems that striving to be perfect is what every employer and client would want. However, it’s a crippling goal that will keep you from being your best. Perfect means you never make any mistakes. It keeps you from experimenting. It keeps you from taking risks. It means you produce the same work over and over. And like all repetition in marketing, that means you will quickly lose your edge.

Excellence, on the other hand, is daring. It takes risks. It does great work that stands on the edge of what’s possible. Excellence means trying new things, wanting new ways of thinking, and being OK with falling flat every once in awhile. Often, your greatest successes will come from what seemed to be failures. 

Failures that Changed Our Lives

Being willing to not be perfect can be our way to unbelievable success. Look at these two case studies:

Play-Doh. Play-doh is a must-have toy for every child at some point growing up. The colorful, shapeable, and playful dough entertains children in a creative way for hours. It’s also an unbelievable commercial success – and started as a result of failure. The McVicker brothers were trying to create a substance to clean off wallpaper. The dough didn’t do that, so they tossed it aside. However, a teacher friend mentioned that traditional clay was hard for her students to handle. The brothers supplied schools with their new play-doh, and it was so successful that it became a powerhouse commercial product.

Mauve. A beautiful shade of purple, mauve came about when a chemist was trying to create a medicine to treat malaria. His attempt did not succeed, but he noticed that one of his coal-tar experiments left a residue that created a lilac colored dye. The dye created a mid-1800’s fashion sensation and set the stage for many other artificial dyes in a wide range of colors. 

The moral of the story? Be willing to experiment. Do your best work. Stop worrying about being perfect and start getting work done. You never know what success you will find. 

Anna Brown 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Link Love! 9 Great Posts From Around the Net

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Today I thought I’d take the time to share some favorite posts I’ve come across lately. Let me know if you like them too! Also, feel free to share your favorites in the comments.  

Inspiration:

How to Make Yourself Lucky, at Abundance Blog

The Vital Importance of Doing the Difficult, at Motivational Memo Blog

How to Leave a Legacy that Will Outlive You, at Success Begins Today

Content Marketing Ideas and Tips:

A Lesson From High School: How to Identify and Engage Your Brand Influencers, at Content Marketing Institute

11 Ways to Bore the Boots off Your Readers, at Copyblogger       

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing is No Buzzword, at Content Marketing Revolution (Great infographics in this one!)

Industry News and Developments:

Dueling Data: Is Twitter Dying? at Hubspot

Facebook’s Marketing Effectiveness Backed By Two of its Biggest Advertisers, at MarketingLand

Bing Explains Their SEO Reports & SEO Analyzer, at Search Engine Roundtable

 

What did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

 

Anna Brown 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Content that Creates Vision

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            When you create content for your website, you probably focus on pointing out your company’s experience and your product’s features and benefits. That’s fine, to a point. It’s important to take it a step further. You want your website or landing page to focus on your prospect, not on you. More than that, you want to engage the prospect and help them create an idea of how they’d use the product and how it would benefit them. You need to give them vision.

How well do you know your customer?

The first step to creating vision is understanding who your prospect is – not just demographically, but in terms of hopes, dreams, and fears. When you understand those, you have the beginnings of the vision. You want to create a website that shows how your product helps people realize their hopes, reach their dreams, or overcome their fears. Does that sound a bit lofty for your product or service? The truth is the only way any product sells is because it creates a vision.

Examples of vision

            Even very mundane products create a vision of fulfillment for potential customers. Let’s look at a few quick examples:

Vacuum cleaner. The workhorse of a home. Still, good content can create a vision: A spotless home where guests can be easily and often entertained. An easy cleaning job that takes no effort because the vacuum does all the work. An end to the worry of cobwebs in corners and dust in crevices. Before you know it, your prospect is the best housekeeper and hostess in the world, in their mind. And they’re buying your product.

Cold medicine. There’s nothing exotic or fun about cold medicine. This vision focuses on conquering fears: A sniffle starts, and the cold medicine is quickly administered. A week of horrible stuffy nose, cough, and miserable feelings is averted. The prospect can go back to work feeling good and looking great. The vision is that there is no need to fear winter colds – life can be lived with confidence. And a life of confidence is a great way to sell a product!!

Laundry detergent. Laundry is often the least favorite chore around a home. So how do you sell a product that makes people think of their least favorite activity? You create a vision: The product removes every stain easily, helping the prospect know that their clothes will be clean effortlessly. They can feel good that they are taking care of themselves and their family. In their mind, your prospect has become a great parent and spouse, with little to no effort. That vision will stay in their mind in the laundry aisle, and they’ll pick your brand.

How do YOU create vision?

            If every day products like vacuums, cold medicine, and detergent can create vision, your product or service certainly can too. So now the ball is in your court – what vision can you create for your prospects?

 

How do you create vision with content? Do you have any great examples of brands that create vision? Let us know in the comments!

 

Anna Brown 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Refreshing Your Spirit in the Midst of Busyness

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            When your business is growing and client work is coming in, things are generally considered to be going very well. And for your business, that’s true! However, for you personally, it may be a struggle to handle a growing company. You want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself too. Here are some ways to refresh your spirit in the midst of very busy times.

Meditate or Pray. My spiritual life is extremely important to me, and I find that centering myself on God is a fantastic way to refresh my spirit, even in the most busy times. Do something to nurture your soul. Connect your spirit to the One outside you. You’ll find yourself strengthened and able to move forward with whatever challenges you face.

Take a Walk. I find that being outside in nature is a great way to slow down and remember the beauty that surrounds me. Getting out of the office for even a few minutes to take in the sun, listen to the birds, and enjoy the weather can be amazingly refreshing.

Eat Fresh Food. Sometimes you feel tired or unfocused simply because you’re hungry or dehydrated. Take a break and get some good, fresh food – a salad, a piece of fruit, or some raw vegetables. Drink water. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference some fresh food and water will make in your mental abilities.

Take a Technology Break. We all use technology to do our work and often to stay in touch with our friends. But we all know that Facebook, Twitter, and even television or Netflix can be a big drain on our spirits. Take a technology break for a day, or even an hour. Take advantage of the extra time to rest, have a picnic, or do something else in the non-digital world.

Meet a Friend In Person. As Facebook and blogs take over our daily social activities, we can go weeks without seeing a friend in person. To refresh your spirit, give one of your close friends a call and arrange to meet for dinner or coffee. Sometimes a good friend will provide just the lift – and new perspective – that you need to move forward.

            In our technological world, it’s easy to forget about nurturing the soul inside of you. Each of us have deep emotional and spiritual needs that cannot be ignored. These five tips should help you renew your spirit, even in the busiest times. 

How do you refresh yourself in busy times? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Anna Brown 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

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Three Ways to Alienate Prospects through Content Marketing

Content marketing is not something you can simply implement and assume it will work. Like a sales pitch in a boardroom, there are ways to really it mess it up. Let’s take a look at three things that will absolutely alienate your prospects.

Attention Getting with Nothing to Back it Up. I made the mistake of going to see the movie The Dictator a couple weeks ago. I knew from the previews that it would be irreverent and even offensive in parts, but I thought it would have the slap-stick humor to back it up. I was wrong. The whole movie was offense-for-offense’s sake, and it was awful. I walked out.

In the same way, your content may be great at getting attention and yet your prospects are clicking off your page after a few seconds. You have to not only get attention, you need to have the quality of message to hold it. Make sure your content isn’t just flash and fluff – define the needs of your prospects and the ways your product meets those needs, and make that your core message.

Not Knowing Your Prospect. Most marketers understand the need to define their ideal client, but they stop too soon. Defining your ideal client based on various market segments (age, location, hobbies, etc) is great. However, you need to move on and understand your client’s fears, desires, and aspirations. Use these to help understand how your product can address your prospect’s needs. You would never go into a boardroom presentation without a clear understanding of how your solution can help the folks you’re pitching to. Don’t put up content without that understanding either.

If you put up content without knowing who your client is and what their needs are, you end up sounding like “Me, me, me, and by the way me.” People are no longer passive consumers of advertising – they want something that engages them. If you fail to engage, you’ll alienate the prospect and lose the customer.

Not Knowing Yourself. Who is your company? More importantly, who do you want your company to be to prospects? Most marketers miss this point completely. In the world of online content you are sight-unseen – unlike the boardroom, no one sees your smile, your suit, or a round of golf after the presentation. You need to determine how you want to present your company online. Will you have a fun, whimsical tone? Will you be more buttoned-down and serious? Your personality needs to come through in your site design and most especially in your content. 

If you fail to give a consistent personality, your prospects will be confused and they won’t know how to engage with you. Worse, they may decide they can’t trust you. Either way, you’ll alienate the prospect and lose out on the customer relationship.

The goal of any content marketing strategy is to engage prospects, help them see the benefit of your product, and turn them into customers. By avoiding these three common mistakes, you’ll be several steps ahead of your competition in winning those clients.

What are other mistakes to avoid when creating content? How do you best engage your prospects? Let us know in the comments! 

 

Anna Brown

 

Are you looking for great content and help with overall content strategy? Take a look at my professional services and contact me today to begin!

 

 

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