Content creation, Nonfiction News

What is Content Creation?

what is content creation

As a freelance content developer, I create content for a wide variety of businesses, both B2B and B2C, on a fulltime basis. These have ranged from small mom and pop shops to a Fortune 500 company. I am HubSpot Certified for Inbound Marketing and a member of the prestigious, member-vetted American Society of Journalists and Authors. I am a lifelong learner with a passion for research and writing, and I love it when a piece of content works well for a client. Here are answers to FAQs.

What does a content developer do?

As a freelancer, I write for numerous companies — and so step one is always to learn more about the company for which I’ll be writing. What products and/or services do they sell? Who is their target audience (or audiences)? What are the company’s goals for the content being developed? Sometimes, the client can’t articulate what goals they have or the goals are not realistic. So, a content developer needs to work with the client to develop an effective strategy; analyze how effective the strategy actually is; and then adjust as needed. There are a number of disciplines connected to content development, including organic search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, link building and more. Not all content developers offer all of these services, but those who can offer the spectrum are more in demand.

What are common challenges?

There are significant numbers of people offering content services, so it can be a challenge to break into the industry unless you obtain an internship or entry level job at a marketing agency. Then, some clients – as mentioned above – can have unrealistic expectations about what website content can do for their company, often wanting very fast results (higher rankings in the search engines, increased targeted traffic to the site and so forth). Because so many companies are competing for consumer attention through content development, there is plenty of online noise to break through to get your content noticed.

What are important skills to develop?

content creation plan

Content development is a hybrid of journalism and marketing, so it’s important that a content developer becomes skilled in both areas. Being good at writing but not marketing can mean your great content never gets noticed; being good at marketing but not at writing means you will fall short in presenting a client’s story well. People skills are also important because you’ll work with clients to develop strategies and content; researching skills are crucial to find quality information; discernment is necessary with so much inaccurate information available; and self-discipline and motivation are important, as well, since you need to stay on task and on time.

Would I be good at content creation?

If you enjoy writing, that’s great, because that’s at the core of content development. But many people discover that, yes, they enjoy writing – but only on topics that interest them. With content development, you need to brainstorm what types of content would appeal to a client’s customers and prospects, and that may include topics not typically considered glamorous.

Does this sound like you? You:

  • love to research and learn
  • are curious and willing to try new things
  • aren’t thrown off stride when Internet technologies change
  • enjoy writing and are good at it
  • understand marketing
  • are self-motivated and self-disciplined
  • are interested in a wide range of topics
  • can interview people effectively to get expert information
  • can discern what secondary sources are quality and which are suspect

What other questions do you have about content creation?

Spiritual Writing

Power of a Purple Proclamation

When I was in elementary school, I desperately wanted to wear purple. But, my favorite color was my mother’s least favorite, so it was an uphill battle. Here is a proclamation that one of my mother’s dearest friends (then and now) wrote in my support! When you look at the picture, imagine a royal purple border, one that has now faded to a muddy lavender at best. Then read the words, recreated below.

purple proclamation

KAB

Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! Let it be known that Miss Kelly Ann Boyer is henceforth a member in good standing of the fraternal order of:

ROYAL PURPLE WEARERS

She has achieved this worth distinction by obtaining and wearing (by fair means or foul) an outfit which is predominantly purple. Purple, the distinctive color of kings, was formerly worn only by wealthy persons of imperial, royal, or other high rank or office particularly in government and the church. In the days of the Roman Empire, purple cloth was extremely valuable due to the scarcity of the rare magenta dye used to color the material; therefore only those who had received personal permission from the Emperor could don garments of purple.

Wear your purple outfit proudly, new member and do try to keep at least one item of purple in your wardrobe at all times in order to remain a member in good standing.

Hail and Welcome!

Signed and approved by:

  1. The President of the Royal Purple Wearers
  2. The Lavender Queen of 5th Street
  3. The Magenta Magnet of Lorain
  4. Miss Rosie Orchid Hue . . . . . and . . . . .
  5. The Purple People Eater

Celebrating Purple

Here are just a few incredible images that celebrate purple. I got them all for free at Pexels.com. I don’t work for them, I get no money out of recommending them. They’re just amazing.

purple flower

purple balloonspurple skypurple flowering treespurple grapespurple flower

SEO for writers

Search Engine Optimization Tips for Writers

search optimization tips for writers

Search engine optimization (SEO): the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. (Oxford Dictionary)

I am frequently asked to provide foundation-level search engine optimization tips for writers groups, and here is the handout that I used at a workshop in March 2016.

So, you’ve got your blog set up – or your website – and now you’re waiting for traffic to come pouring in. But, it doesn’t. Or, if it does, the site visitors aren’t the type of demographic that’s interested in what you have to say or sell. What went wrong? The reality is that the Internet is loaded with content, and it takes time, effort and skill to become more visible in search engine results when people search on relevant topics – and the best way to make that happen is through the appropriate use of SEO.

SEO Definitions

seo definitions

First, here are concepts that are useful to understand.

White hat SEO: legitimate strategies

Black hat SEO: negative/not recommended strategies; can be done intentionally or unintentionally

Gray hat SEO: in between white hat and black hat strategies

Keyword: “particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a Web page. Keywords are intended to act as shortcuts that sum up an entire page.” (Techopedia)

Spiders (robots): programs that travel the web in search of content to “crawl” (read)

Indexed: crawled content that is categorized by a search engine and is potentially available to be returned as a result of a keyword search; if not indexed, content can’t be returned as a result of a search

Keyword evolution: although Google initially used exact keyword match in determining search engine results, the process has become much more personalized, conversational and sophisticated

Keyword Process

Let’s say that someone searches on Google for “writer’s block.”

SEO for writers

 

 

 

If you wrote a blog post on that topic, your goal is for Google to present your blog post URL as an option in the search engine results being presented. Here are sample search results:

More SEO for writers

 

 

 

 

 

 

You hope that your blog post appears near the top of the search results (is “visible” in Google) and that someone chooses to click on your blog link in the search results. If so, then you’ve got search engine traffic coming to your site!

Why Google?

Because most of organic search traffic comes from Google, as shown below:

Google traffic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Optimizing Your Content

Now that you understand the big picture of how Google indexes content, it’s time to do some reverse engineering. “Optimizing” your content is a fancy way of saying that you make what you publish online search-engine-spider-friendly, making it easy for Google’s spiders to find, “understand” and categorize your content – and then return it as a result for relevant searches.

There are multiple tools that allow you to conduct keyword research. Google’s Keyword Planner used to be free, but now you need to be running a pay per click campaign for it to be “free.” I now use SEMrush, paying $69.95 a month (although it’s a much more robust tool than simply for keyword research). Here are screen shots of keyword research that I did when I used Keyword Planner to demonstrate the process.

keyword research

 

 

 

 

Click on “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” and enter “writer’s block” in the search box – then click on the blue “Get ideas” button.

keyword research 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I got this result (make sure you click on the “Keyword ideas” tab when you get results):

keyword research result 1

 

 

 

The term “writer’s block” has large numbers of people searching on it (which is good!), but it is also a competitive term (meaning, it can be difficult to rank well for that term because lots of people want to), so it’s better to choose longtail terms (three to five words each) that aren’t as competitive. But, be sure to choose longtail keywords that other people actually use, rather than ones that you hope people use.

keyword research result 2

 

 

Four-Way Keyword Test

 Keywords that you choose should:

  • be relevant
  • have traffic
  • be targeted
  • have reasonable levels of competitiveness

Where to Use Keywords

  • URL: provides ranking cues
  • Title tag: provides ranking cues
  • Meta description tag: encourages clicks
  • H (header) tags: provides ranking cues
  • Internal linking: provides ranking cues
  • Body copy where it reads naturally and well: provides ranking cues
  • Optional: keywords tag but avoid keyword stuffing; also avoid keyword stuffing in copy

keyword stuffing

 

 

 

The title tag and meta description tag don’t actually appear on your site. They are tags that you can add via the backend of your blog or site and they appear in search engine results pages.

Here is an example. The first blue arrow is pointing to a title tag; the second, to the meta description tag.

optimizing tags

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Domain Authority: 1-100 (Higher is Better)

 Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. Use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the ‘strength’ of your website over time.” For higher DA, you need links:

  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Relevancy

Additional Search Engine Optimization Tips for Writers

First, you typically have much better success when optimizing for terms where you already have some traction in Google (appearing in the top 100 results).

Next, you can find these concepts laid out in more detail in a series of three blog posts that I wrote for Loconeal Publishing:

So, what questions do you have? What one thing can you do today to improve your presence in Google? What one thing can you do this month? What do you see as your biggest challenge? Search engine optimization doesn’t create instantaneous results. It requires

Nonfiction News

Research, Write and Review: the Biography

“Life is just one damned thing after another.”

—Elbert Hubbard, who died when the ship, Lusitania, sank in 1915

writing a biography
Writing a biography: research, write, review

Biographical material ranges from brief encyclopedic snippets to book-length tomes. Sometimes the material is groundbreaking, revealing information about a person for the very first time; in other instances, the biographer is adding his or her unique spin on a frequently debated public figure. Regardless of specifics, a biography should, at a minimum, provide precise facts about another person’s life; ideally, it should also supply a sense of that person’s essence, and place his or her life in the context of the era in question. To publish such a biography, you must research, write, and then review.

 

 

Nonfiction News

Nonfiction News

I’ve been busy blogging at Loconeal Publishing — and here are some snippets of recent posts:

ethics matter
You know which way to go!

Ethics Matter

“If the best journalists in the world lack credibility then they are nothing. All we have is our credibility. We aren’t granted ‘journalist’ status by earning a certain college degree or being issued a government license. We earn it by reporting responsibly.” (Society of Professional Journalists President David Cuillier, April 2014 issue of Quill)

Maybe you consider yourself a journalist – or a blogger or a magazine writer. No matter how you self label, when you write nonfiction, it’s crucial to report responsibly and to navigate ethical tightropes as carefully as possible.

Historical writing

Remember the Ladies! Getting Women on the Road

Black-and-white retro style depiction of a woman in typical style of the 1920s or 1930s. She's fashionably adorned in black lace, pearls, evening gloves and a pearl-accented wrap-around headpiece. A hand flutters to her chest, as she offers an alluring, sideways glance.
1920s: increasing numbers of women began driving.

When cars began dotting the dirt roads of America, the drivers were almost all men – and the roads . . . well, they stunk. Although “modern” roads certainly existed before the 20th century in the United States – after all, horse-drawn wagons and bicyclists needed a path to follow – the existence of roadways was erratic and nothing to be counted upon. In 1904, for example, only one-sixth of public roads in rural locales had any kind of surfacing whatsoever. Everything else was just plain mud.

Historical writing

Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (Allan Gurganus)

Confederate uniforms - American Civil War 1861-1865

The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All is a 718-page historical fiction novel written by Allan Gurganus and published by Ivy Books in 1989. Written as if dictated to someone who visited ninety-nine-year-old Lucy Marsden when she lived in a nursing home, it tells the story of Lucy who, at the age of fifteen, married fifty-year-old Confederate veteran Captain William Marsden around 1900 and had nine children with him. This book explores issues of race through the lens of the Confederate South, and serves as a journey of self-discovery for Lucy, and it stayed on the New York Times Best Seller list for eight months, winning the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This was Gurganus’s first novel, selling more than four million copies.

Historical writing

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple Series

 

Antique desk with his pen and old books
Miss Jane Marple appears in 12 books and 20 short stories over a period of about 50 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was invited to write an encyclopedia entry on Agatha Christie’s amateur detective, Miss Jane Marple — and, as a huge fan, I was thrilled. And . . . the encyclopedia project got canceled. So, I thought I would share what I wrote here, with sub-headlines added.

Who is Jane Marple?

Jane Marple is a fictional character created by English mystery novelist Agatha Christie. She appears in twelve books and twenty short stories, starting in approximately 1926 and lasting through 1976; the last was published posthumously. Miss Marple, as she is generally called, is portrayed as an elderly spinster woman of Victorian sensibilities – typically one of the oldest characters in each story where she appears – who has lived her entire life in the small village of St. Mary Mead. She happens upon murder cases in each of the amateur detective stories and can solve them because of her close observation of human nature throughout her long life, outwitting characters much younger than herself.