3 Surprising Patterns of Reading Online:

eye2While writing content for online environments you must think of the following paradox: reading is the PRIMARY action performed on the web. AND people try to read as LITTLE as possible (online) 20%!

So the goal for any visitor of your site is to scan as efficiently as they can to understand whether they like what they see or not (in which case they will click away).

Continue reading 3 Surprising Patterns of Reading Online:

52 blogging ideas for authors and experts, based on their book content

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Many authors choose to publish a blog as a way to stay connected with their readers, promote books, build their brand, share ideas, grow and engage their readership. A blog helps you stay visible and relevant to your audience. Publishers look for authors with active, buzzing and growing communities of readers and a robust social media presence.

If you have just written a book, you may feel like you have exhausted your creative potential and squeezed every original thought out of your head. What else could you possibly write about in a blog? Don’t despair! Get your blog publishing calendar out and start filling it with these 52 blogging ideas. If you publish once a week, they will give you the whole year worth of material!

  1. Things that didn’t make into the book, such as background stories of the characters, descriptions of people and places, or details of the events;
  2. Your personal elaborations on the characters and the plot;
  3. Your motivation for writing the book;
  4. Your mission, goals and inspirations as an author;
  5. A brief video introducing you and your book to your audience;
  6. Alternative plot developments that could have happened;
  7. Questions that you struggled with as you were writing the book;
  8. Your answers to the readers’ questions;
  9. Your responses to the readers’ reviews and comments;
  10. The summary of benefits your readers can expect when they study and implement your ideas;
  11. The summary of pain points that your book addresses;
  12. Lessons, case studies and examples of application of the ideas in your book;
  13. Your personal favorite or least favorite parts of the book and why you chose them;
  14. Anchors, such as catchy phrases, memorable metaphors or anecdotes that can improve the recall of your book content;
  15. Tests and assessments that allow readers to evaluate their knowledge and skills;
  16. Your questions to your readership;
  17. Photos of any physical artifacts that became a part of your book or helped you in the writing process, with your commentary;
  18. Recipes of any food or drinks mentioned in the book;
  19. Sharing of how you implement your own ideas – live your truth – your personal successes and failures along the way;
  20. Your habits as a writer and your creative process;
  21. Guide questions and activities for book clubs that want to discuss your book;
  22. Your own interviews about the book;
  23. Interviews of other people who have read and used your book;
  24. Stories, scenarios, problems that build on your material and encourage readers to apply the strategies in your book;
  25. Additional activities and exercises to help your readers implement your ideas;
  26. Daily observations and spin offs that relate to your book content;
  27. Giving voice to different characters in your book by writing a post from their perspective on a situation or interviewing them;
  28. A collection of quotes from your book that can be easily shared on social media;
  29. A collection of quotes from book reviews;
  30. Endorsements of your book by other distinguished writers and experts;
  31. Press releases about your book signings and other public appearances;
  32. Unfolding a passage of your book with additional thoughts, illustrations, etc.;
  33. Making your characters and places come alive through drawings, cartoons, maps, photos, etc.;
  34. Creating and sharing an infographic or visual illustration of your book content;
  35. Commentary of the news and current events that can be related to your book content;
  36. Guest posts from your readers or other writers;
  37. Reader contests where you ask your readers to submit some content, such as their stories, reviews, designs, for a chance to win a prize;
  38. Participating in a blog tour where other bloggers get to interview you about your book;
  39. Clips from newspapers, magazines and other publications about you and your book;
  40. How-to lists based on your book content;
  41. Before and after photos that illustrate the implementation of your system or strategies;
  42. Reader “makeover” challenges where you follow and write about some readers who are using your book to improve their lives;
  43. DIY projects based on your book content;
  44. Crossword puzzles based on your book content;
  45. Reviews of other books with complementary topics;
  46. Product and service suggestions based on your book content;
  47. Recap of your social media activity with most popular tweets, Facebook updates, LinkedIn discussions, readers’ comments, etc.
  48. Brief audio or video tips based on your book content;
  49. Teasers of your upcoming books;
  50. Brainstorming future book ideas with your readers;
  51. Asking readers’ opinions on your titles, book covers, etc.;
  52. Sharing your work process and progress if you are writing another book.

What do you write about in your blog? Share in the comments below.

5 ways to generate compelling visuals for your content marketing and e-learning

collageAs the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words… well, maybe not a thousand, but 1.5 words at least. We do remember pictures better than we remember words. Studies by Paul W. Foos and Paula Goolkasian shed light on the difference between memory for pictures and words. They found that pictures were correctly recalled about 1.5 times as often as printed words. Researchers at the University of Iowa James Bigelow and Amy Poremba have found that when it comes to memory, we don’t remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see or touch.

Since visuals win the memory challenge, it only makes sense to incorporate them in your content presentation if you want it to be memorable. I once received an email from a member of a LinkedIn group after I posted a comment on one of the discussion threads. Something in my comment triggered his memory of an image I had shared in the same group many months before. He wasn’t sure but thought I might be the one who had shared it, so he emailed me to see if I could give him the source of that image. This illustrates the fact that visuals are memorable and that your expert brand can be associated with and reinforced by the content you share. In order to be effective, your visuals need to reinforce your message, be unique, and be able to stir some emotion or reflection in the viewers so that they could connect to your content on a deeper level. How do you find or create such visuals?

1. Stock up. There are numerous websites where you can search and legally download Creative Commons (CC) license or royalty-free stock photos. Always make sure you understand the restriction on the use of such images. Here are some of those websites:

Wikimedia Commons is a database of 23,769,240 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.

Flickr is another popular site where you can use an advanced search to find CC images.

Microsoft Office offers visuals you can use.

freeimages has a gallery containing over 350,000 quality stock photos by more than 30,000 photographers.

Getty Images now allows to easily embed and share its imagery at no cost for non-commercial use on websites, blogs and social media channels through their embed tool.

While stock images can get the job done, don’t underestimate your ability to produce your own visual content. Just pick up a camera, even if it’s your smart phone camera and begin to look around. Our surroundings abound with the rich and complex material that can help you tell your personal expert brand story. Train your eye to see it. It is easier than you think. Here are a few tips to get started:

2. Organize your existing photo collection. Chances are you already have plenty of good, funny, personal images tucked away somewhere on your computer drive or in photo albums. They all tell your story. Take time to go over your collection with an eye to possible future business use. It is a fun thing to do. Plus, it can trigger memories that may result in new stories to tell about your personal brand and your business. We did just that with our Halloween post when Marina found an old photo of us dressed up for Halloween.

3. Start taking pictures – lots and lots of them. Get in touch with your own sensibilities. Look at other photography sites and photo sharing platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest. Notice what appeals to you and why. What moods, styles, colors, patterns resonate with you most? What makes you laugh, think or inspires you? Start capturing those “snapshots of the moment” – often mundane but also funny, puzzling, memorable aspects of your reality. Notice patterns and disruptions. Our brains constantly search for patterns and make predictions to make us comfortable in our environment. Studies show that bizarre and grotesque images are especially effective at grabbing attention. People tend to spend more time on such images as they try to figure out what is going on in the picture – their brains are busy deciphering the pattern. Be ready to capture anything surprising, bizzare, humorous, unusual – such images are likely to provoke thoughts and appeal to emotions. Analyze your own work just like you did with other people’s photos. Use Flickr or Instagram as a way to filter and store the photos you like, get feedback from your followers and grow your own collection of visuals that can be later used for various projects.

4. Turn your content into a collage. Here’s how it works. Pick the key elements and relationships that describe your concept. Then, find images that you associate with those elements. You can browse magazines if you want to make it low tech or find images on the web if you want to create your collage in a digital format, or maybe, you can sketch them yourself. After you are done collecting your visuals, arrange them in a collage trying to reflect the relationships among the underlying elements. The benefit of a collage is that it allows you to see the concept as a whole whereas the verbal description can only be sequential. Collages can serve as visual metaphors, allowing for personal interpretation. Visit Creativity Portal to explore various collage resources on the Internet.

5. Get moving with video marketing. Videos offer a great way to promote yourself as an expert, speaker or author. According to comScore, website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video. In addition, visitors who view videos stay on the site an average of 2 minutes longer than those who don’t view videos. People have short attention spans and tune out easily. Keep your videos under 3 minutes in length. You can do a series of videos on different topics. If you use a webcam to record your videos, make sure you position yourself in the center, look into the camera, choose an appropriate background, and have light facing you. A webcam does not have the energy of a live audience, so you have to bring your own energy up through your body posture, smile, and variations in your pitch, tempo and volume. The good news is that you can re-record any number of times you want, so you get the result you like. Whenever you upload your videos onto video sharing platforms, such as YouTube or Vimeo, make sure to use appropriate keywords and links to your website to build traffic and subscriptions to your email list.

Ready to package your expertise online? Sign up for a FREE consultation with Marina and Anastasia!