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A GUEST POST FROM DAVE SWENEY, CO-FOUNDER OF THE SMART AFFILIATE PROGRAM AND THE SMART TOOLS FOR BUSINESS BRAND…Read and heed (and have a great day!)… : )
 
 
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Dave:
 
“Hi, Everyone…
 
Today I want to cover how to expand your idea if content creation to attract and keep more people on your websites, social accounts, and offers.
 
Content creation online is a hefty commitment to your audience. You’ll constantly be creating new content for them on your blogs, within your email autoresponder campaigns, for your social networking posts, possibly for any info products you create, for lead magnets you create such as preparing free reports, and much more.
 
It can seem overwhelming at first, but it does not have to be…
 
 
 
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Beginnings…

I have seen, over the years, that everyone has a different set of skills and levels of skills they may currently possess in how they communicate.

 
Regardless of what level you feel you are at, it is very important that you always keep improving and then apply the new knowledge to mix things up in everything you create…
 
This is going to improve your results manyfold…You always want to provide a wide variety of formats for your audience.
 
Different people react positively to different kinds of content, and if you are adept at creating many forms of content, and leverage your skills, you can likely connect with the majority of people that come across your content.
This also allows you to mix up what you may send the audience to keep them engaged and interested. For instance, you may find that your readers love it when you stray from your normal routine, such as sending them a video when they’re used to getting an article link from you (or vice versa).
 
Also, just so you know, using multimedia formats does not have to be complicated or expensive endeavors on your part. There are many ways to use the tools you get as a member of the SMART Affiliate Program to easily create many forms of content so definitely you can use this easy, automated means to a multimedia approach for your audience.
 
 
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Photo by existentist cc - Using a Multimedia Approach to Share Your Message

My Tips To Excel Using Text-Based Content

Here are just a few thoughts on content and how you can make it work for your business…
 
What Is Your Skill Level?
 
It pays to know what your skill level is, first of all. You may think you are a very good writer, and maybe you are for some audiences, but remember, we are catering to the masses with our content so it pays to have someone who is neutral have a look at what you are creating.
 
When you’re using some written content to convey your message to your target audience, it’s important that you understand whether or not what you are creating will resonate with them.
 
The key is, to get some feedback and also to be honest with yourself…You need to know whether or not what you are writing is effective. If not and you do not have the time to learn the skills, consider outsourcing this work to another party, at least initially until you improve your skills.
 
Use Ghostwriters

For instance, there are many marketers who outsource almost all their content to freelance writers. These ghostwriters know their business (if you have selected the right one) and doing this frees you up so you can handle other important areas of your business. You can find freelance ghostwriters directly on our freelancer platform or using sites such as Fiverr, UpWorksm Freelancer doe com, etc.

 
Here is a quick walkthrough of what you will find on such platforms:  

On the Upwork platform, there are ghostwriters who will be bidding on your project…You can evaluate their talent by reviewing their portfolio and selecting one or more that seems to have what you need.

 
For the Fiverr platform, you will see that each of the freelance writers offering their services has their own profile. There you can get a good idea of how good they may be and also see the details of how you can work with them.
No matter what platform and ghostwriter that you use, normally, they will charge by the word.  A lot of times you can have a look at some examples of their previous writing deliverables that may have done. Also, before you hire someone, in any of these platforms, you can also communicate with them directly…This helps to iron out the details of the work you may require.
 
Your Unique “Take” On Any Subject That You Write About
If you’re creating text-based information, i.e. a blog post, a review, or a case study, you will want to create a unique slant to the subject. Every subject is open for that no matter how many marketers may be writing about the same subject.
 
Since you are offering a new take on the same data that many people have written about, and adding value through additional information, your content will be interesting for your readers.

You can gather information from others’ websites about whatever the subject might be, but don’t simply copy the content, and rewrite it changing a few words. This is a form of plagiarism that too many marketers will engage in, and it is to be avoided.

 
Instead, take the time to find multiple sources of information, educate yourself about the topic, add your own ideas to it,  and write everything from scratch.
 
Watch The Tone of Your Content

The best form of writing for affiliate marketing is using a conversational tone. You want to write like you are having a conversation with someone who has asked you about the subject, and that person is sitting across from you. Keep it friendly, without adding too much slang to the information, You also don’t want to be so stuffy that the reader feels like they are looking over a college dissertation or a scientific journal. 

If you want to get a feel about this style of writing, I suggest reading through a variety of consumer magazines. Also, do not get too wrapped up in the length of your posts. Write enough to cover the subject thoroughly. Whatever length it is, it is. Just make sure to follow some of the other SEO rules (i.e. keywords, using H2 and etc. so your content can be crawled by the search engine bots and ranked in the search engines… 

Try to keep the fluff and filler in your writing to a minimum. This can be obvious to the reader and it will make the content boring, and there is a good chance they will click away from your website. Your text-based media (content) should be filled with information that you have researched, and it should provide your take on the subject. 

Lastly, as mentioned above, it pays to have someone look at your content prior to publishing. Even if you do not have a person available, tools such as Grammarly to help minimize any mistakes. If someone does bring it to your attention that there is a typo or error in your content, thank them, correct the mistake, and publish an updated version of the post. Easy peasy!

 
 
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Adding Images to Enhance Your Message

Have you ever come to a website where there is a long article that does not have much whitespace around it and it runs on paragraph after paragraph for what seems like forever? What was the author thinking?

 
Don’t be that person! If you’re a marketer using text (content), then you’ll also want to enlist the help of adding some images here and there to help break up your content into digestible bites of information. This will keep the reader engaged. By the way, you don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to do this.
If the article has such images, use them also for the social platforms (make sure they are congruent, i.e. they fit the content) Such images added to social posts make your content stand out and people will notice and want to know more.

This helps your content stand out in someone’s timeline stream. When someone shares your blog posts, these images will often show up automatically too. Nice! 

Note that such images can also be used within the body of your emails and email campaigns you create. Say you are promoting a particular product or service to your subscribers…By including a picture of the product within the body of your email and even adding a hyperlink to the image can increase engagement and action (i.e. sales and commissions!).

Yet another way to use images is to for breaking up the content within your info products and lead magnet reports that you give out or sell to your audience. Images are powerful and the old saying that they are worth 1000 words is true. Make them work for your business by interspersing them in all of your written content. 

 
Where do you find images to use in your online marketing efforts?

There are a number of stock sites that have a wide variety of niche images that are free to use. There are free stock sites like Pixabay that you can use where you don’t have to give attribution to the creator of the image in most cases.  Just make sure what rights you have for anything you use, or it could be expensive (copyright infringements can be costly and a headache!).

Bottom Line: Always check the rules before using any images from any source.

 
If you want to be safer, you can choose to use paid stock sites. They generally have a wider variety of high-quality images that you can use but of course, there is a cost involved, as the stock photos can be expensive. Sometimes, there will be special sales on bulk image packs on such sites as DepositPhotos or iStockPhotos.

Use Your OWN Photos

 
Here is something you may not have thought of…Why not take your own photos for your marketing efforts? I know that for many, taking photographs, or photography in general, is not their strength…
 
In that case, maybe you may want to have someone take shots for you, or alternately, use a phone app that can help you quickly polush up the images for your marketing efforts.

If you’re creating content where you’re showing someone how to do something, and it is online, you can take some screenshots and walk them through the process. These will add greatly to the written content as you can embed the shots into your report. As they are reading your walk-through instructions, they can see what you’re talking about.

One last point about images…Whenever you use any images, if it is permitted, use tools that will add branding to them…This way,  you can showcase your URL and maybe even your logo somewhere on the image.

 
You can also add quotes to an image that is intended to motivate, inspire, or to inform your reader. There are many free and paid tools that can do this for you…I like Canva, and there are many others that will do this for you at little or no cost…
 
 
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Could a Podcast Help Boost Your Expertise?

You likely have heard of Podcasting. It is an audio media format that is becoming more and more popular among the average consumer. Among every demographic, there has been a rise in the popularity of Podcasts.

 
It is an excellent way to capture those members of your audience that just want to listen to your content rather than read through it.

The nice thing about Podcasts is that they are a suitable media format for a wide variety of niche topics. People love to hear opinions and ideas and more.

 
Another thing is that contrary to popular belief, setting up for podcasting does not require any special equipment. You can go upscale but it is not difficult to start. Use the equipment that you likely already have and as you get more comfortable (and see success) you can scale up this media format by building a simple home studio with semi-professional sound equipment and using a near-soundproof room.

Note that for starting, you can use any decent recording equipment, including a smartphone! Record an episode of your podcast for your target audience and get it out there. See what the audience thinks and adjust accordingly what you are delivering. Jumping in is the hardest part of this media-format!  

There are plenty of sites where you can get a basic understanding of how to get started, and as long as you keep background noise to a minimum, or preferably, eliminated, as you start, your listeners will be able to hear your sound advice and will enjoy the podcast.   

There are also free sites such as Anchor.FM  where you can host your show. They provide limited editing tools and effects too at no cost and they will also distribute your podcast to other places. They will even help you increase your listener base by doing this (at no cost!). Such platforms are very convenient, fast, and easy to use. 

Another advantage of creating a podcast is that they don’t require you to work for hours on end to get them live and published. If you notice, most of the podcast shows average around 12 minutes, although some are shorter or longer in length. It depends on you! 

No matter the length, always strategize and plan about a month’s worth of shows in advance. This way you can stay on target and focus on the things you need to for your business and marketing. Podcasting can dovetail nicely with your other marketing and content media too. They all should complement one another and point people to your promotions and offers (while adding value and creating engagement)… 

As you plan your podcast schedule you can stick to a strict format and length every time, or you can talk for as long as is necessary to get your point across. Also, if you don’t want to do a podcast show all by yourself, try partnering with another marketer who is also in your niche.  You both can benefit and it can be easier to keep things flowing in an interesting manner for listeners.

Yet another angle is to invite guests on to your show and have interviews and discussions. You could take calls from listeners during the episode too. If you are live-casting or have a way to receive questions or commentary (either ahead of time or while live) you can discuss on your show. There are lots of ways to increase engagement using podcasting! 

 
Why Is Podcasting Becoming More Popular? 

It really is simple…One of the best things from an audience’s perspective about podcasts is that having just the audio allows them to multitask while they are consuming your information. They can listen to your podcast while commuting to and from work, they can be doing other things while listening at home.

For instance, they can listen to you while they are cleaning the house or while taking a bath, they can exercise or maybe simply relax. I would say that even if you don’t want to launch a full-fledged podcast operation, consider using audio recordings in some manner for your business. Remember it is about offering a variety of formats they can tap into. 

 
 
 
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Photo by Paull Young cc - Using a Multimedia Approach to Share Your Message
Let’s Do Some Videos!
 
Okay, maybe this is one media format that you are a little uncomfortable with…

Making Videos When You’re Nervous to Be on Camera

Most of the newer marketers avoid using video as part of their multimedia approach simply because they are too nervous to consider being on camera.

 
They may feel inadequate for a number of reasons. They may be shy introverts or they just do not feel that they look good on camera.

Some are worried about age, while others are worried about their privacy. These are valid reasons, but the great thing about video marketing is that there are lot of different ways to approach it.

 
You can add this media format without putting yourself on camera! 

Some ways include using screen captures of your computer and in the background adding audio. Using free tools you can edit the audio and even the video to make it unique and interesting, and there are many people that will watch and enjoy your creations. It does not have to be hard.

There are free tools that we discuss in our Advanced Training portion of the SMART Affiliate Program that will walk you through the process, and people definitely will watch what you create. Once you start getting comfortable, you can add in more equipment and professional gear to add even more value to your audience, They will appreciate this for sure.

You can even start using a smartphone and a clean space around you to record your videos. If you want to use screen capturing software, you might look at something like Camtasia or the freeware version Camstudio. We have training on all these means within the training, so you can try and see if it will work for your business.

The best approach to recording such videos is to let it be natural and practice prior to the actual takes. Use an outline at most, some talking points that you want to be sure to include. Do not try to use a full script as it will not sound natural and you will lose viewers. 

The taking points will be plenty to keep you focused and on target to include everything you need to pass on. Have a casual conversation with your viewers. Use simple words or phrases to jog your memory and remind you of what you need to talk about.

Always include a call to action at the end too. Let them know what you want them to do the action they should take right after viewing. People want to be told what to do when it comes to marketing. Also make sure that you encourage your viewers to share, like, subscribe, and comment.

 
This type of engagement isn’t automatic, so you have to prompt them to do it…Most will take the action you are asking for, and not feel like you are overburdening them…
 
 
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Live Interactions That Deliver Extra Value to Your Audience

This is one format that many new marketers will put on the back-burner. Live events are scary things, as they are live, and there is no second takes or redos. 

 
But live events, such as webinars, or team meetings, or weekly group meetings are not reserved for those with guru status! Anyone can host one and share value with their target audience.

Such events can help you connect with your audience. It’s sometimes better than just sending text-based content out to your subscribers via an email because it gives them a way to interact with you. Engagement is a powerful tool that you want to tap into as much as possible. 

Doing live events are also a great way to get some social proof working…Attendees can see that others are on-board and they are seeing you as a leading expert in the niche you are discussing. Note that there is a negative connotation about webinars that some audience members might have, but you can change that. Provide tons of value and encourage interaction, and you will see that it really can be a great alternative media format that will help your business.

 
 
 
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Summary of Today’s Discussion…
  
The key with any media format that you choose to use is that you provide real value and engagement
 
If you are going to promote something, do it at the very end. Get feedback from the audience for all formats that you may use, and use the feedback to make your content better. 
 
I hope that these ideas will help you in your business, and within the “SMART Affiliate Program,” we constantly are seeking improvement for our own platform and for members.
 
No matter our skill levels at this very moment, we can get better. Step outside your comfort zone, try new things, and over time you will look back in wonder as you see how far you have come (and how far your business has come!)…
 
Thanks for stopping by and we will see you again soon! These guest blog posts will be a regular thing for members, as are the webinars and training additions you see inside our platform. Have a great day, everyone! Do leave a comment below and let us know what your thoughts and suggestions are!”
 
Cheers!
Dave : ) 
 
Co-Founder:
SMART Tools for Business
SMART Affiliate Program

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