How to Make Your Content Stand Out

Let me begin by thanking you for taking time to read this post. You could be watching a video of grumpy cat or looking at photos of your BFF’s children on Facebook.

That’s the reality of content today. As someone who produces content I know that I am competing against “an infinite ocean of content.” Sarah Skerik, vice president of content marketing for PRNewswire, discussed the topic during a recent webinar.

Whether you are producing content for your company or for yourself as a freelancer or author, it’s critical to recognize that you are competing against much more content than ever. So what do you do?

Florence, Italy

Images make content stand out, which is why I included this one of Florence, Italy. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Begin by finding different angles to appeal to different audiences. For example, best-selling author Adriana Trigiani writes books that are set in New York and Italy.

Her readers want to know more about the settings so working with a close friend, they established a tour company that takes readers to the locales so they can learn more about the settings in the book. That’s an extreme example, and it works.

Author Ellen Crosby wrote a series of mysteries set in Virginia’s wine country and her social media posts often included information about vineyards and wine. She not only appeals to those who enjoy her books, but also to wine lovers.

Another step is to rethink the press release. You want to make it easy for bloggers and others to tweet about your press release so keep the headline short. Keeping the headline short also ensures that the release can be properly indexed by search engines. Character length should be about 65. If you need more, use a subhead.

The key is to make the press release something that people want to interact with. Interaction, Skerik says, is worth measuring. Measurement includes the number of times it is shared and how it ranks when searched, for example. Shares are a measure of engagement and can influence purchase decisions, according to Unruly, a marketing technology company that created an infographic about the Super Bowl and shares.

One way to encourage interaction is to include visuals in a press release or blog. These visuals can then be pinned on Pinterest or other social sites, creating more play for you.

Writing the press release, blog or online story is just the first step. It’s important to take the time to think about how you can get people interested in your content. How do you ensure that your content is noticed?

Finding Time to Write a Book in the Digital Era

The surprising thing about being a writer says novelist Ellen Crosby is “how hard you have to fight to find the time to write.”

Ellen Crosby

Ellen Crosby spoke about her latest book, Multiple Exposure, at the Library of Virginia.

Crosby shared her thoughts on the topic during a talk at the Library of Virginia.

Her editor told her she had to be on Facebook. The publishers “Really believe that’s the future,” she said.

Publishers are less likely to send the authors to a bookstore. “They want the magic of the internet,” Crosby said.

That means she needs to be on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. She also writes a blog and maintains a website, although she said, “I have eight visitors on a good day.”

“It’s a very big part of my day,” Crosby said. “I try to do it cheerfully, although I’d rather be writing.”

On her social sites Crosby shares about upcoming book appearances and signings. She also shares tidbits related to her books. She’s currently doing a photo blog, which ties directly to her latest book, Multiple Exposure.

(Courtesy of Ellen Crosby.com)

(Courtesy of Ellen Crosby.com)

Engaging on social does require time and effort. A few tips gleaned from numerous talks include:

  1. Align your social media profile picture with your brand. Use a photo of you that appears on your book jacket or use the cover of your book.
  2. Include a short description of your books and links to purchase books.
  3. Respond to replies and comments. You want to engage with your community.
  4. Plan your posts and tweets so you have fodder and aren’t spending all of your time writing for your social sites instead of writing your book. It’s acceptable to share information related to your subject matter. For example, Crosby can share about photojournalism or wine country.
  5. Cross pollinate. Not everyone will visit your website or follow you on Facebook. It’s okay to use content more than once.
  6. Post photos because they help your posts stand out and they create an emotional connection with your fans.
  7. Ask your fans to retweet and repost or to write mini reviews.

Celebrate National Library Week

How do you read? Perhaps, I should be asking whether you still read.

It’s an interesting question and one I wanted to pose given that this week is National Library Week. One of my favorite authors, Ellen Crosby, posted a survey on her Facebook page asking people how they read. The choices were – they buy the book, they read on an e-reader or they go to the library. The winner was real books that are owned, followed by library books.

Of course, this was a small survey and is not scientific, but I started thinking about how I consume books. I’ve moved a lot in my adult years so I’ve always tried to keep my collection of books manageable. Despite that, if I moved today I would easily fill 15 to 20 boxes with books – and those are only my favorites that I’ve kept. And then there are all the business and leadership books that I have at work.

To cut down on books, though, I’ve become a huge fan of my library. I can walk to it and pick up a few books. I also volunteer with the Friends group of my library. We hold two books sales each year. This is great because I can buy books, read them and then contribute to the sale. I also coordinate our Writer Wednesday series where authors come in and speak about their books. Topics have included mysteries, remodeling, history and anything else that will interest our patrons. The wonderful part is that the topic almost doesn’t matter because readers love to meet authors.

Books and more books

E-readers, library books and purchased books -- I read them all! (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I also have succumbed to the e-reader. Last fall I traveled to Indonesia, which is a 30+-hour journey. I needed some variety in my reading choices and not much weight in the suitcase. So I bought a Nook. I love it for traveling and enjoy reading on it. I have some friends who even have abandoned a physical book for their e-readers. Apparently, we’re not alone. A Pew Research Center survey showed that one in five American adults read an electronic book in the last year.

For me, though, at the end of the day, I still want to hold a book, preferably new, so I can sniff the ink on the page and hear the sound of the pages crinkling and the spine slightly cracking as I open it to explore.

Would you take the time to share how you consume books by posting a comment this week as part of National Library Week?