7 Types of Content for When You’re Bored With Writing

Burnout happens to the best of us. While on an upswing in your content marketing momentum, or as I like to call it, Tuesday, it seems like you could write articles on an indefinitely ending course—basically, writing until your fingers fall off. And while the quality of content is always more important than the quantity, it’s also no secret that more content is almost always a good thing.

Keeping up with the demands of your company and your audience can take its toll on you, but you can’t just stop producing content—otherwise, your momentum will essentially crash. Instead, try one of these seven types of content, which serve either as alternatives or interesting ways to spice up your ordinary content routine:

  1. First, I want to mention the power of interviews in regard to content marketing. You get to show off your own authority, borrow from the authority of someone else, and immediately open a channel of cross-promotion that rewards both you and your interviewee. Also, interviews take little prep work and can be published extremely quickly—with no real writing necessary.
  2. Quote Lists. Why say something if someone else has already said it better? Putting together a quote list, or simply examining an extended quote by someone big in your industry, can help bring readers’ attentions in while easing some of the strain of coming up with original material. You can add your own commentary to make it more relevant to your blog.
  3. Have you read any good books lately? Extended reviews can be easy, yet effective forms of content that show off your own expertise. Alternatively, you can review a product or service—but why would you want to send one of your customers off to buy something else? (Unless you’re gunning for affiliate links, but that’s a different matter altogether).
  4. Amusement Pieces. Think of something that amuses you and write about it. My entire blog is full of amusing posts (or at least, posts that I find amusing) simply because I enjoy writing them. Come up with a weird analogy or metaphor, or just stuff your article full of Internet memes. If you think it’s fun, chances are other people will too.
  5. If you don’t want to write—try talking! People will appreciate the chance to hear you communicate more conversationally. Explore a topic that’s worth talking about, and post a link on your blog.
  6. Image-Based Posts. Even if you aren’t especially skilled in Photoshop and if you don’t have the budget for the creation of an infographic, you can at least use real-life images to flesh out a post. For example, take pictures of your office and explain exactly what it is you do, or demonstrate practical examples of how to use your product.
  7. User-Submitted Guest Posts. Last but not least, let some other people fill out the content of your blog. Start accepting some guest posts, and you’ll earn new links, new visitors, and new readers in no time—all without lifting a finger.

Hopefully these refreshing content types will serve you well and reinvigorate your enthusiasm in producing great content. Of course, if you’ve already hit the wall and you can’t go any further, I do offer content writing services to help you shoulder the burden.

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Why Peer Support Is Your Number One Marketing Resource

Think about all the movies you’ve seen, all the restaurants you’ve eaten at, all the vacations you’ve planned, and all the cars, furniture, gadgets, and games you’ve bought. Now how many of those were ideas you came up with all on your own, and how many were either suggested by or inspired by the actions of your friends and colleagues?

We live in a highly social world. We’re evolutionarily wired and culturally goaded to engage with one another, trust one another, and learn from one another. It’s how we develop ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally, and how we make decisions in our lives. If one of our peers supports an idea, that idea immediately becomes more favorable. If we don’t see any peers supporting an idea, we tend to disregard it.

Think of the usefulness of this trait in an evolutionary scenario. There are two types of fruit available—a purple fruit and a green fruit. A handful of your close friends appear to be eating the green fruit, but you don’t see anyone touching the purple fruit. Ignoring the “road not traveled” mode of thinking and any merits of nonconformity, the evolutionarily wise choice is the green fruit. It’s clearly enjoyed by your peers, but the purple fruit might be poisonous. Right or wrong, there’s safety in numbers, and this mentality persists today.

As a marketer, it’s on you to take advantage of this mentality. The key to winning the favor of an individual is to win the favor of his/her peers.

Practical Examples

First, think of how viral content gets spread. We like to think of virality as happening all at once, as if thousands of people suddenly realize how good a piece of content is and then flood to spread it to the furthest corners of the web. Instead, it’s usually one or two rogues who happen to pick it up, then their friends see they liked it, and accordingly, they view that piece as being more valuable. In a sense, viral content isn’t worth anything to people until it’s shared for the first time by a meaningful party.

Second, consider the authoritative strength of a user testimonial. Imagine an identical product in two separate scenarios. In the first, the company describes the product as revolutionary, resilient, and well worth your money. In the second, three separate verified real users describe the product and the company takes a backseat. The latter example will seem more appealing to you because your peers support the idea.

Take this information and apply it to your own marketing strategies. Do everything you can to leverage the power of peer support, from cultivating testimonials to wooing influencers on social media. For more insights on social media mechanics and how to win the favor of your audience, be sure to check out my social media marketing section.

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West Brom 12/13 via photopin (license)

Marketing on Mars: Terraforming with Content

Recently, DARPA unveiled their plans to genetically engineer a microorganism that is capable of surviving in a Martian landscape and slowly but surely adapting the atmosphere to resemble Earth-like conditions. Essentially, this thing would terraform Mars into a livable human environment.

Now, the terraformation of Mars has been a pivotal plot device and backdrop for thousands of books, movies, and terrible pieces of fan fiction, but it appears that this genetic engineering initiative could be the infancy of its realization in a real environment.

So what does this have to do with content marketing? I’m so glad you asked.

The terraformation process is strikingly similar to the process you’ll use in content marketing. Okay, not that similar. But use your imagination!

Step One: Find the Perfect Specimen

In order to be successful, DARPA will need to experiment with several already-existing species, finding and isolating the key qualities necessary to filter the environment properly. Similarly, when establishing your strategy, you’ll have to review the thousands of content strategies already in effect and piece together your own unique strategy from those components.

Step Two: Establish an Atmosphere

Once you’ve got your core specimen produced, you’ll need to introduce it to a live environment so it can start doing its work. On Mars, DARPA’s microorganism will start filtering out the toxins in the air and replacing them with oxygen, nitrogen, and other atmospheric elements necessary for life. On your blog, you’ll be establishing a brand, setting a tone, and writing regularly to build yourself a signature atmosphere.

Step Three: Introduce New Life Forms

Once Mars’s atmosphere is ready for humans, we’ll introduce other organisms and live people to test the environment and start contributing to it. On your blog, you’ll need to start building a readership and getting your work featured on outside sources.

Step Four: Flourish!

Once humans start living on Mars, all that’s left to do will be adjusting the environment and allowing it to flourish. Similarly, your blog will require gradual, yet significant adjustments to keep your audience building steadily.

If you’re into both content marketing and space like I am, you also might be able to learn a thing or two from my article To Be Successful in Marketing, Be a Xenomorph. Otherwise, you can contact me and we’ll have a nice chat about writing on obscure topics.

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Splash-Screens-A3 via photopin (license)

What Led Zeppelin Teaches Us About Proper Content Marketing

A lot of people will tell you Led Zeppelin’s ambiguously titled fourth album is their best work. Personally, I’d go for “II.” But there are also some strong arguments for Physical Graffiti, their live albums—hell, pretty much everything they’ve done. Why is that? Because they knew the fundamentals, they did what they were passionate about, and they kept working hard to improve their sound.

Led Zeppelin is a group of artists, first and foremost, so forgive me for implying that they were marketers. This isn’t the case. But their approach to their music and their fan base reveals a number of important lessons that all content marketers should follow.

Pick the Right People

Led Zeppelin had an amazing vocalist in Robert Plant, an amazing guitarist in Jimmy Page, an amazing bassist in John Paul Jones, and an amazing drummer in John Bonham. Take away any one of those roles and you simply wouldn’t have the same band.

In your own content marketing efforts, teambuilding should be your number one priority. You need an amazing writer. You need an amazing social media expert. You need an amazing PR person. You need an amazing brand authority. All these interlocking pieces should be working together flawlessly—otherwise, you’ll end up with a disorganized mess.

Have Signature Qualities, but Let Yourself Evolve

Theoretically, you’d be able to pick out a Led Zeppelin song out of a lineup, even if you’d never heard it before. That’s because they have a distinctive, consistent sound. Even so, each of their albums, as the band progressed, offered different variations on that sound, allowing it to evolve with the band’s talent and direction.

It’s good to stay consistent with your own brand voice and content direction, but don’t get stuck in one place for too long. Allow your sound, or in this case, your voice, to evolve along the way.

Don’t BS Your Way to the Top

Many modern pop artists rely on synthetic or inorganic means to produce their sound. Marketers write the lyrics, random session instrumentalists fill in the sound, producers make tweaks, and auto-tune turns anyone into a great singer. Led Zeppelin did almost everything by themselves, and they worked hard to perfect their sound.

There are no shortcuts in content marketing. You’ll have to work hard, remained disciplined, and constantly improve your own techniques if you want to be successful.

Believe in What You’re Doing

Rumor has it that in 1977, Led Zeppelin stopped playing their signature song, “Stairway to Heaven” at their live shows. Robert Plant’s reasoning was something along the lines of: “there’s only so many times you can sing it and mean it. It just became sanctimonious.” The band was great because they loved what they wrote and they loved what they played. And if they didn’t like it, they stopped playing it.

In your content marketing work, you have to believe in and be passionate about your topics. Otherwise, what’s the point in writing them?

These lessons should help you be a bigger badass in your content marketing efforts, or else inspire you to revisit Zeppelin’s classic discography. If you’re interested in more classic rock-meets-marketing stuff, check out my article For SEO, Draw Inspiration From Sgt. Pepper’s (Not the White Album), or contact me for a free consultation on your current content marketing approach.

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via photopin (license)

Why Google Would Probably Engineer a Frankenstein Dinosaur If It Could

With Jurassic World coming up, my mind is on dinosaurs. Not that it isn’t on dinosaurs fairly often in the normal course of things, but it’s especially fixated on dinosaurs now. I haven’t seen Jurassic World yet, seeing as how it comes out tomorrow, but I do know there’s a genetically engineered monstrosity at the center of it, the latest iteration of the “playing God” dynamic in roughly half of all science fiction movies. It’s the manifestation of technology “going too far.”

Google’s formal company motto is “don’t be evil,” which is about as concise as you can get in trying to avoid such doomsday scenarios. But here, Google isn’t referring to technological super-geniuses or mad scientists, it’s mostly referring to corporate greed. When it comes to technology, Google all about pushing the limits, going further than anyone else has before, and introducing new concepts to the world. So when it comes time to release that ultra-robot, Google has very few hesitations.

Right now, Google is spearheading a mini revolution of artificial intelligence. Its Google Now digital assistant has some of the most sophisticated voice command recognition technology the world has ever seen. Its predictive search functionality has gotten so advanced it’s creepy. And in case you haven’t heard, its self-driving car is pretty much ready to hit the streets with consumers in tow.

All these advancements are conveniences to us. Aside from maybe the self-driving car, we’re not flabbergasted at the thought of them. But these are iterative steps in a long-running process of tech development, and those steps are bound to continue to pretty intimidating places. Google’s head of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has famously predicted that the technological singularity (the Terminator-style point at which machines will become smarter and more capable than humans) will occur no later than 2045. But he’s also predicted that within that timeframe, the line between man and machine will become blurred; humans will have nanobots in their bloodstreams uploading thoughts and feelings to the cloud. Think I’m kidding? Hear him talk about it for yourself.

It’s pretty radical stuff we’re talking about here. Google’s engineering department is all about algorithms and devices and consumer technology. But if it was about restoring DNA, or about genetics in general, we’d probably have a velociraptor prowling the streets of Cleveland by now. Why Cleveland? Because despite the danger they’d potentially pose, it’s my personal fantasy to have a pet velociraptor.

Anyway, in another reality, Google’s head of genetic engineering would be talking about dino-human hybrids and super dinosaurs instead of tech-human hybrids and superbots.

All this is just rampant and unimportant speculation because my mind is on dinosaurs, but there’s a real takeaway here. Google has a radical vision for the future of human-technology interactions, and it’s simultaneously exciting and terrifying. It’s a hell of a time to be alive.

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Weston Longville via photopin (license)

The Next Great Content Strategy: Make Your Readers Swear

Everyone’s always searching for the next great trend in content marketing. Some say it’s this, some say it’s that. Maybe it’s video or maybe it’s a new type of listicle, or maybe it’s all spoken by some talented voice actor. Can you imagine Billy West reading all my blogs in some weirdly appropriate cartoonish voice? A pipe dream. But my point is, the trends people suggest are often ludicrous, rarely practical, and ultimately just go back to the fundamentals; write stuff that people want to read.

So I have a new suggestion for a content marketing trend, and it can be summed up in one simple strategy: make your readers swear.

That’s right. If you can write content that makes your readers swear, I guarantee you you’ll find success as a content marketer. So how can I get off saying this? Well, you just have to look at the reasons why people swear.

Swearing out of surprise

People sometimes resort to swear words when you catch them off guard. For example, I could write a post saying that I found a live pterodactyl in my backyard (with photographic evidence)—that would certainly elicit a few explicit words. Surprise is a pivotal factor in how well your content gets shared virally, so if you can surprise your readers to the point when they swear, you’ll have a good chance at getting your content heavily shared.

Swearing out of frustration

Hold up. I know frustration is a negative emotion. This is a special kind of frustration. It’s the frustration of realizing something you should have realized sooner—you could call it a “connect the dots” moment. It’s a piece of new information that you present that suddenly sends a chain reaction of insight in someone’s mind—if you can do that, and make the person swear because of it, you’ll earn that reader’s loyalty for life.

Swearing after a bout of laughter

Some people swear when someone gets them laughing hard enough. Funny posts are always a win, so if you can write a post that’s so funny it gets someone rolling on the floor and uttering curse words, you win whatever game you’re playing.

The basics really haven’t changed in this new strategy I’m proposing—hopefully you’ve been writing funny, surprising, enlightening content this whole time. But it should help you frame your content in a different perspective. Remember it when you’re writing your next piece. Or you could just have me write your stuff—I’ll do a great job with it. I swear.

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Hold on Here, Just What Exactly Is Facebook Planning?

I’ve got a Facebook account. You probably do too. Hell, I manage like 10 different company and organization pages, so you could argue I have almost a dozen Facebook accounts. Facebook is big business, for individuals as well as consumers, but up until now, it’s been a social network. That’s right, I said “up until now.” The defining characteristic of Facebook—the fact that it’s the most popular social platform in the world—might be evolving. Facebook is trying to be a hell of a lot more than a social platform, but the question then becomes:

What the hell is it trying to be?

It Built Its Own Facebook-Based Search Tool

So, for a long time Facebook partnered with Bing to bring greater search functionality to its users. That was cool—it gave users a chance to search through old posts and old friends conveniently—but back in 2014, Facebook dropped the partnership (it tried to do so quietly, but we all know how that kind of stuff turns out). Instead, it released its own search functionality, to serve as an independent layer.

Okay, so that’s nothing weird. More social stuff for the social platform. Just a little more independence from a bigger search specialist.

Add a Link—Lol, Google

Earlier this month, Facebook started rolling out a new feature for its users’ status updates. Instead of just being able to add pictures or cute emoticons, users now have the option to “add a link.” Okay, adding a link to your post is nothing new, but this functionality adds something really interesting. Instead of relying on Google or some other provider to find that link and add it, users can search for their intended link within the Facebook app—and here’s the kicker: it’s Facebook’s own proprietary search algorithm.

That’s right. Facebook isn’t just producing algorithms for its own internal posts—it now has one that searches the entire web. And that’s just the beginning of the weirdness.

Let’s Do Local Reviews Too

Most recently, it appears that Facebook is using its own review aggregation function to make recommendations to its users. Essentially replacing a service like Yelp or TripAdvisor, this new functionality could one day make Facebook the go-to source for finding new restaurants, bars, or other establishments.

So what gives? Facebook is pushing boundaries by breaking partnerships, and venturing into definitively non-social online functions—particularly search and local reviews. My personal guess is that Facebook is tired of being a social network. It wants to be an everything network, much in the way that Google has a product or service for pretty much anything you want to do with technology. The process will be slow, for sure, but we may one day see Facebook’s own maps, directions, mobile devices, and operating systems. It wants to be an even bigger tech giant than it is, and we’ll see some real blurry lines in the process.

Facebook’s key advantage is the crazy amount of user data it has access to. Because it knows more about the individuals of the world than any other tech player out there, it has a real advantage in developing new products for those users.

It’s impossible to know exactly how this will develop, but it will damn sure be interesting. For more social media news, be sure to keep reading my blog—I’ll be posting updates as Facebook gradually takes over the world.

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