Blogging Your Way To a More Powerful Brand

Blogging Your Way To a More Powerful Brand - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Pixabay

The best thing about a blog is that just having one is a step towards creating a more powerful, recognizable brand.Many businesses use content marketing through blogging a major part of their strategy, so you are already ahead of the game

Many businesses use content marketing through blogging a major part of their strategy, so you are already ahead of the game

So how do you become a blogging superstar, and get that brand up and moving? Here are some must-have tips to get started.

Build Bigger, Better Content

The common advice used to be that if you write it, they will come. That hasn’t been the case for a long time now. Creating content is about building something amazing that stands out from the crowd because everyone and their mom have a blog these days. Want to brand through blogging? You better be ready to go for the gold.

Having posts that really push the line will get you further, and one amazing post will equal to about ten ‘meh’ ones. Try expanding out into interesting new territories: slideshows, infographics, comics, expert roundups, series posts, extensive tutorials, etc.

Get Social (The Better Way)

There is nothing quite as annoying as a blog Twitter or Facebook account that only publishes links to their blog. Maybe those posts are incredible, I wouldn’t know…I never click on them. And if you look at the analytics that comes from those kinds of accounts, neither does anyone else. People may hit the favorite or like button, but they will probably forget they ever saved it to read later.

Your social accounts are a way to engage and connect with your potential audience. It is a place to show off your authority, likeability, and the tone of your brand. You should be interacting in a normal, one on one way. That doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) share links, but make it about more than that. Here’s a good list of social media tactics to build your blog and drive traffic.

I would recommend setting your posts to automatically post on social media. Then use a tool like Buffer to remind every few days for the first week. Everything between should be written in the moment.

Brand Through Color

Choosing the right color for your brand is probably the biggest concern as far as design goes. So why do so many brands choose the same color scheme? I have lost track of the number of modern startups that are going with blue, blue-green and green, it is insane.

You want to stand out, but also present an image that is true to your brand. There are some great color wheel tools out there that will let you select a unique palette that speaks to what your blog is all about.

My personal favorites are the ultra-simple Paletton wheel and the more thorough Adobe Color Wheel. The first is a nice way to just get a look at how the different colors mesh together and look in a sequence. You can get any shade or tone between two extremes. The second is great if you want to share your palettes, or look at those created by other designers. The gallery can be pretty inspirational. Head there if you are having trouble deciding on what colors to use.

Build Your Own Assets

Don’t spread yourself thin: It’s easy to focus on social media activity (which brings results at this very moment) and forget about building something long-term and solid that would become a solid traffic source one day.

An essential brand asset you should start with is definitely an email list: Your subscribers will become the core of your community, coming each time you call them.

GetResponse is the most efficient platform to build an email list. Its automation toolset is impressive and lets you automate your communication with subscribers in a most powerful way. Besides, GetResponse has come up with powerful marketing tools including webinars, analytics and landing page creator empowering your email marketing.

Blogging Your Way To a More Powerful Brand - Duct Tape Marketing

Spread Your Authority

Whenever someone tries to claim that guest blogging is dead, I roll my eyes and submit my latest guest post to one of the many sites I am lucky enough to work with. Guest blogging is one of the easiest ways to spread your authority beyond your own blog, connecting with audiences who are interested in what you have to say, but may not have come across your site before.

Branding is all about authority, because you have to prove you are the best of the best, and no one else competes. Writing for other sites that readers already trust is a great way to do that.

Monitor Your Brand Effectively

You have got to be able to properly keep track of what is being said about your brand, and to be up on the latest 411 at all time. Having a couple of tools on hand will make that a lot easier.

Google Alerts is a must use app for reputation management all across the web. It will keep an eye on reviews from other sites, Yelp comments, even obscure mentions on little forums and message boards. You will always be able to watch, and (if necessary) comment.

Cyfe is an all in one business dashboard that pretty much does anything you want it to. I like it for watching social media, analytics for different pages, and finding out what content is most popular. That helps me to narrow down my brand focus and start catering to what my audience is responding to.

Blogging Your Way To a More Powerful Brand - Duct Tape Marketing

Get That Editorial Calendar In Order

This isn’t exactly a branding tip, but it is a blog management tip. Which means in the grand scheme of things, it applies.

You should have an active, well-maintained, organized editorial calendar in place at all times. You can just use an Excel or Google Drive spreadsheet if you like. But I like Trello for the job since it is so easy to edit, share, get comments, assign tasks, and just about anything else you can think of.

It is one of those tools that is there for one thing (project management), but can be customized to fit just about any need.

Do you have any advice to add on branding your blog? Let us know in the comments!

anna foxAnna Fox is the blogger behind Hire Bloggers, social media marketing enthusiast, and stay-at-home mom.

How to Create a Style Guide With Authority

How to Create a Style Guide with Authority - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit Pexels

How do you maintain a consistent level of quality across all of the content on your site? In order to provide a solid baseline for content for your site, a well documented and easy to follow style guide is necessary. One of the most important parts of maintaining consistent branding across your site is a style guide. A style guide will instruct new writers on the particulars of writing for your site like certain spelling, citation style, image attributes, and header formatting.

The problem is, a lot of people don’t read carefully. So like any other piece of content you create, your style guide needs to engage and maintain the attention of readers. Rather than tell you what information to include in your style guide (plenty of articles have been written on the topic, this one being a particularly good one), this article will walk you through how to write an authoritative style guide that people will actually read and follow.

1. Write your style guide in the tone you want contributors to use.

Basically, lead by example. Demonstrate the kind of writing you would like to see from them.

That being said, the goal of a style guide isn’t to intimidate contributors–you should want to get them excited to write for your site while also making it clear that you have certain standards that you want them to meet.

If your site has a laid back, conversational style, you can convey that in your style guide. Start with an intro welcoming the contributor to your site and talk about some of your brand’s values. Those could be things like “actionable content” and “approachable customer service.”

Whatever tone you go for, it’s important that your style guide is direct. Depending on how much content you have coming through your pipeline, you may have to be quite strict with your requirements. Keep your style guide concise and make it very clear what you do want in contributor content and what you do not want.

2. Make what you do want clear.

You might assume anyone contributing to your site would take the time to read through some other content on your site, but here’s the thing: a lot of people don’t. It could be because they are reaching out to a bunch of different sites to contribute to at once, or because they simply didn’t want to bother. Whatever the case, you can give them an extra nudge by reminding them to look at some other content on your site before beginning their writing.

Also, link to a couple of examples of top content that you would like them to strive to emulate. A smart writer will know that while having your own distinct voice is important, it’s also important that content is consistent with a site’s particular brand.

3. Make what you don’t want clear.

There are probably things you absolutely don’t want in your site’s content, like certain overused buzzwords or corny stock photos. These should be stated explicitly in your style guide, along with the warning that contributors who include them will be asked to remove them.  

Create a designated list of words that should not be used, and maybe offer some alternative words that you can use instead. Give the list a punchy name like “Word Wall of Shame” so that readers will take the time to actually look at it and hopefully listen. Some words I suggest putting on your no-go list because they tend to weaken writing are “bunch,” “very,” “a lot,” “much” and just.”   

Indicate words you want to be spelled a particular way. For example, you might want contributors to write “call to action” and not “call-to-action” or “click bait” and not “clickbait.” I suggest reading this intensive list of weak phrases and words to avoid in your writing.

You may also want to include examples of visuals they should avoid. For example, here’re Lifehack’s style guidelines for featured images:

How to Create a Style Guide With Authority - Duct Tape Marketing

4. What tools does your brand use?

Every site has an arsenal of tools for design and SEO that they use regularly for their content. Point contributors to those tools so that their content will meet your site’s standards. For example, if you have specific guidelines about what visuals they should or shouldn’t use, you can direct them to a particular stock photo site or chart maker that you recommend. You may also recommend that they run their content through a proofreading tool to eliminate surface errors.

5. Demonstrate your brand’s creativity.

Style guides are typically written in word docs and sent to prospective contributors. But if your site’s traffic is picking up and you are getting more pitches for guest contributions,or if you want your style guide to reflect the outside-the-box culture of your site, you may want to take a more visual and interactive route.

HubSpot’s style guide is a great example of this. They’ve divided the page into sections for visual content and written content. They’ve also dedicated a section to their brand values. The amount of detail you put into your style guide will create a precedence for the quality of content you expect from contributors.

How to Create a Style Guide With Authority - Duct Tape Marketing

6. Proofread your style guide!

This seems like such an obvious point but trust me, I’ve seen enough style guides with typos and surface errors to know this warrants repeating. Easily avoidable surface errors are one of the most immediate blows to credibility. Think about it: would you feel as hard-pressed to use an acute eye to detail in your content if the site you were contributing to didn’t seem like they even read their own style guide closely? Just take the extra 20 minutes, or however long, and proofread your style guide.

The more concise and clear your style guide is, the better the quality of your submissions will probably be. So take the time to consider exactly what kind of content you want guests to contribute. Have any questions? Asks below.

sara mcguireSara McGuire is Content Editor at Venngage, a free and easy to use infographic maker. When she isn’t writing research-driven articles for a number of business and marketing sites, she enjoys reading graphic novels and hanging out with her cat.

9 Tools to Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video

9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape MarketingRunning a business takes a lot of hard work, time, and skill. You’re great at the business part, but how about your marketing? Social media is the best way to get the word out there about your business, but it may not be your strong suit. Outsourcing your content creation can be the best way to market yourself effectively in the online marketplace, without sacrificing your own time on the effort. If you’re thinking about outsourcing your content creation, try out these nine tools.

Graphic Content Creation

  1. Design Crowd: If you’re starting out, you’re going to need business stationery, and a logo to go on it. A business with the same design on everything, from their shipping labels to their letter overheads, looks professional. This service can create them all for you, giving your business a unified look over everything you send out to customers. You can even have them design clothing with the same branding for your customer facing staff.
  2. 99 Designs: Brand identity is key to showing potential customers you’re a professional business. This service can provide that for you, and if you meet a designer there you work well with, you can choose to work with them directly. Building a relationship with a graphic designer can be key to having a brand identity that becomes a household name.
    9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape Marketing
  3. Crew: This service allows to access a huge community of design freelancers. Whatever your budget, there’s someone here who can create something you’ll love. Just place an advert telling them what you need, and you’ll get bids for the work. Pick the freelancer you want, and away you go.
    9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape Marketing

Text Content Creation

  1. Custom Writing Service: Writing regular blog posts is essential to getting readers, and keeping them. It can keep them abreast of everything that’s new in your industry, and you can update them on your latest lines, news, and offers. However, having the skill to write a successful blog post is another thing entirely. This writing service can create those posts for you with the topics and themes you give them, and send them back ready for publication.
    9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape Marketing
  2. Contently: Managing several different social media accounts can be difficult to do. This service allows you to create content and keep track of all your accounts in the same place, with little effort. Perfect for when you’re rushing to keep up with the latest trends online, or just trying to keep everything updated at once.
    9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape Marketing
  3. EssayRoo: A well-edited blog is a blog that will go far. You may well write your own content, after all, you know your product better than anyone else. Do you have the time to edit your own writing, though? Australian writing service EssayRoo will do it for you, sending you back grammatically perfect work, every time.

9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape Marketing

Video Content Creation

  1. Video Pixie: Looking for someone to create your video? Describe your vision on this site, and experienced videographers will bid to do the work for you. Select the best person for the job from the applicants you see, and you’ll be all set! You can even control the budget, and pay for the work through this site directly.
    9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape Marketing
  2. Smart Shoot: To show your business off at its best, you need a photographer that really understands you and your industry. This service aims to match you with someone can create the perfect business profile for you to use online, and attract customers to you. Use this service, and all your social media accounts can be unified, inviting, and professional looking.9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape Marketing
  3. Veed: An eye-catching, creative, and unique video is sure to catch the attention of potential customers online. This service matches you with videographers who share that vision with you, and who can create that video. They can even create ‘micro-content’, that will get your message out there without taking up your customers’ valuable time.

9 Tools To Outsource Your Content: Graphic, Text and Video - Duct Tape Marketing

Now that you have these nine tools to hand, you can outsource your content creation to some of the most capable people in the business. Have them handle your graphics, text content, and visual content, and you can get back to doing what you do best. Try them out and see for yourself.

Mary WaltonMary Walton is a professional editor from Santa Monica. She studied in Australia and traveled the world. Loves writing and e-learning. Find her recent rumblings at educational blog Simple Grad. Follow Mary on Twitter and Linkedin!

6 Tools We Use at Typeform to Amplify Our Marketing Productivity

6 Tools We Use at Typeform to Amplify Our Marketing Productivity -Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Unsplash

Working in marketing can be very demanding. KPIs, meetings, brainstorming sessions, monthly revenue, never-ending checklists… the list goes on. Luckily, we live in a time where productivity hacks are easy to find. Even easier than catching Pokémon.

Regardless of whether you’re in a large team or an army of one, at the end of the day, it’s all about working to achieve your goals. To do so, staying organized and focused is key. At Typeform, web apps are a must. Here are six of our favorite tools that help us get stuff done.

1. SaneBox for sorting out our email

There are two kinds of people in our team: those who aim for “inbox zero” and those who prefer the “filtered email” approach. Either way, keeping email organized can be a difficult task, especially if you’re subscribed to an endless list of newsletters. That’s where SaneBox comes in. This tool, as the name suggests, keeps you sane by cleaning up your inbox in minutes. It also creates automatic file uploads to the cloud and lets you snooze your email for later—a must-have for when it’s time to focus.

2. Trello for getting organized

Organizing our day-to-day goes way beyond Google Calendar. We seem to have a thousand and one projects in motion at any one time. Project managing is a tough job. That job is made easier for us by using one of our favorite tools, Trello. Perhaps SCRUM methodologies work best for you, or maybe you’re perfectly fine with a good ol’ checklist. Trello is a great management tool that will keep your project organized from start to finish.

3. Feedly for finding the best content

At Typeform, if there’s one thing we love to do lots of, is reading online content. We need to keep up with the latest trends and always like to find new and great examples of top-notch content online. Feedly makes this task easier. This tool lets you make carefully curated lists based on your area of interest. However niche you want your reading list to be, discovering, reading, and monitoring content has never been simpler.

4. Meet Edgar for distributing content

One of the best hacks for social media marketing is scheduled content distribution. But we always found that the available tools were quite limited… until we met Edgar. Meet Edgar is a social media distribution tool that automatically fills itself out by recycling and queuing your content. You can create “buckets” of different types of content, and tell the app how often to share something from each bucket. It’s a massive time-saver.

5. Canva for creating beautiful and shareable images

Statistics show that Facebook posts with images drive 2.3x more engagement than those without and articles with images have 94% more views. So visuals are the way to go. When in doubt, Canva has got you covered. Canva is a complete graphic design tool for non-designers that lets you create beautiful visuals that make your content more attractive. It also has specific image sizes for every platform—allowing you to reach across multiple channels. We’re lucky enough to have an in-house design team at Typeform, but we use Canva to create quick, good-looking images to share in presentations, etc.

6. Crazy Egg for optimizing our website

Having a beautiful website that’s friendly, engaging, and simple is key for us. However, we sometimes want to know how much people are actually engaging with our content. Do they scroll? Have they seen that link? Do they know there’s a “see more” button at the bottom? This is where Crazy Egg comes in. It shows you how your visitors interact with your website through heat maps and scroll maps. This lets you see what works, what doesn’t, and where people are getting lost.

Whether you’re a full-scale marketing team or on your lonesome, we all ask ourselves the same question at some point: “how can I be more productive?” Hopefully with this selection of tools you’ll find that your efforts will be simplified and your results amplified without losing focus.

Joanne TorresJoanne Torres is an online & outreach marketer at Typeform. Compared to the industry average, Typeform has 4x higher completion rates due to their human-first design approach—keeping people’s attention from start to submit. Whether collecting customer feedback or having any other type of conversation with your customers, typeforms are beautiful, friendly, and engaging.

Twitter: @possiblyjoanne