Content marketing plans that work

By Rhonda Campbell

Found at dustn.tv

Found at dustn.tv

Content marketing is the mix of passion, experience, engaging writing, social sharing and marketing. Prior to the rise of content marketing, you’d have to rely on media contacts to spread the word about the launch of your business or new products and services that you were developing. Press releases, radio and television interviews and paid ads were top options two to three decades ago.

Today, press releases still work, especially if you organically add targeted keywords to the releases.  Yet, there are challenges. Journalists receive dozens of press releases a day. Larger media outlets can receive hundreds of releases a day.

Content marketing tools

Distinguishing yourself from the crowd can seem implausible with this approach. Fortunately, content marketing  can put your message in front of thousands of people within seconds. What tools do you have to implement an effective content marketing plan?


All of these are effective content marketing resources:

  • Social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, StumbleUpon)
  • Blogs
  • Online media outlets
  • Landing pages
  • Websites
  • Email marketing
  • Videos

There is much ground to cover. To start, build a content marketing calendar. Identify which media outlets you will target. As a tip, you may want to focus on no more than three to four social media platforms to create enriching relationships with followers and supporters. These are platforms that you will visit, comment on, ask questions and post unique content on several days a week.

Write down the days and times that you will post content to these social media platforms. Test out days and times for different types of posts. For example, you may find that you get best results when you post videos at noon on weekends.

Data to add to your content marketing calendar

Other actions to add to your content marketing calendar are when you will post blog articles at your business blog, when you will update landing pages, content on your websites and shoot new videos. For email marketing, consider distributing a weekly newsletter, sales brochure or coupon booklet.

Connect keywords used in each piece of content marketing. Choose keywords that highlight the benefits that your products and services offer. If you contract with professional freelance writers or marketing agencies make sure that these writers have spot on research skills.

It also pays to work with freelance writers or marketing agencies that have firsthand experience in the industry that you specialize in. Just as you can tell if writing is natural and reliable, so can your customers. The best intentions won’t make content come across as natural if writers are unfamiliar with the products or services they are writing about.

Add every content marketing item to your calendar. Don’t skimp on the calendar creation. Identify human resources that you will use to meet calendar deliverables. This step will highlight areas where you need help. Angie’s List, Elance and WooRank are places where you can find content marketing contractors.

Content marketing specialty firms

Companies that specialize in content marketing include NewsCred, Percolate, Social Media Contractors and Outbrain. Outbrain pushes your content out to readers. You should see an increase in traffic. Just make sure that the traffic is a part of your target audience. Percolate is a software system that you can use to monitor content marketing plans as well as manage social media relationships.


Google analytics, visitor comments, social media shares, blog and newsletter subscribers and, of course, sales, are ways to measure effects of your content marketing strategies. If you subscribe to a content marketing platform, log into your dashboard. See who the sites are bringing to your blog, landing page, website or social media account.

Don’t guess. Look at and pay attention to the analytics. They tell a story. Tweak your content marketing calendar and strategies as needed. This includes adding paying social media and other marketing tools to your overall plan.

Posted in Growing Business | Tagged | 1 Comment

You can’t win all by yourself

By Ericka Simpson

image of your success

Found at Lifehack.org

Have you ever fantasized about setting a record in your industry or profession and doing all the heavy lifting by yourself? Have you ever dreamed about outperforming top athletes, overcoming injuries and other challenges, and coming out on top, surpassing anything your peers have ever done? Maybe you’re working to build an innovative company on your own, a firm that’s a leader in the industry you work in.

The solo effort is so tiring
Would it surprise you to hear that your dream is an old dream? You might not believe that this dream is void of truth unless you give it a shot. But, then you’d be welcoming frustration, that or you might finally awaken to the fact that you can’t win all by yourself.

Think about it, educators, scientists, entertainers, athletes and companies that succeed have large numbers of supporters. They have lots of people who get them word-of-mouth exposure, sharing information about their products, services and innovations.

More than that, people living victorious lives realize that we are all connected. They have given up the concept that they can win all by themselves, alone. They search for, recruit, accept and support talent. Giving others the chance to shine is part of their experience. They wouldn’t dare tell you that you can’t rise up or win.

Don’t wear yourself out turning down support
But, they know that you need the right resources or support. They know that you can’t win all by yourself. You need policies, guidelines, processes and procedures that take you to where you want to be. You need more than money. You need people who believe in you and what you’re trying to do.

Do you want to win? Get clear about your mission or purpose, as in why does your organization exist at all? Why? What are the by-laws or rules that will serve as boundaries or a path to keep you and each person at your organization on course to fulfilling your mission or purpose?

Build your talent. You need to know the specific resources (talent) you need to fulfill your mission or purpose. Not every organization needs the same talent or resources. Also, find the people who your mission or purpose serves. Develop processes that allow you to connect with these people frequently.

Give these people what they perceive that they need and you could gain long-term supporters. Value every resource at your disposal. Value every person your mission puts you in contact with. You can’t win without these people. You also can’t continue to fulfill your mission or purpose without these people. It’s these people who will help you to win; do it right, and you and your supporters will win together, not one loser among you.

Posted in Staying Motivated and Inspired | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Marketing Success Goals — Specialize or Go Big

By Rhonda Campbell

Found at ArtsandClassy

Found at ArtsandClassy

Last night’s research work clarified a successful marketing strategy. It surprised me to see that an audiophile review article had gotten more than 21 thousand social media shares. Who would think so many people are interested in old stereo systems?


What’s behind the content marketing success? The audiophile review article specializes. The topic isn’t broad. It’s narrowly focused. Specializing with marketing content (i.e. blog posts, images, videos) is an excellent way to get traffic.

Passion Turns Personal Specialties into Marketing Success

Passion is a must to succeed with a specialized marketing strategy. You simply must be passionate about the topic that you are investing  your time in. If you’re passionate about a topic you might:

  • Focus more on the depth of the content rather than search engine results for similar topics
  • Commit to uncovering rarely (or never before) shared material
  • Get to the core of the data
  • Feel like you didn’t put in your best effort when you generalize
  • Provide details that quickly educate, instruct or inspire

Why Specializing Works

Specializing works for marketing success because it speaks to people who are equally as passionate about topics that you are passionate about. Add keywords to your marketing content to attract these passionate folks, not to build out the content. Think of the keywords as a door knock, an effort to invite the right people over.

If you’ve ever worked as a content marketing strategist for an agency, you’ve probably written articles and landing pages across industries and markets. You may have written about auto repairs, sports heroes, healthcare initiatives, financial savings strategies, college degrees, stereo systems, computer software, hotels and legal services.

Are You Really Passionate About All Those Things

Even if you’re a talented marketing copywriter, that’s not specializing. It’s why some small businesses only work with marketing strategist who have an in-depth background in the products or services that they provide. People can tell when you’re passionate.

Other signs that you specialize with a certain type of marketing content are that you:

  • Only write about one to three topics at your blog or website. True specialization generally sees a person investing time in only one topic at their blog or website.
  • Visitors to your blog are highly educated about the topics that you cover. You can tell by the comments that they leave. Why? Their passion in the topic hasn’t just sprung up. They’ve been reading up on, researching and enjoying participating in activities related to the topic for years.
  • You share valuable information on a topic without having to conduct research. You’re simply that familiar with the topic.
  • Your website is a resource of choice for people researching the topic that you write about. For example, college students may refer to your website when writing a research paper.
  • You’re not trying to reach everybody, just the people who share your passion.
  • Sites like Buzzstream gravitate to your site, generating lots of inbound links for you

Big Path to Content Marketing Success

Don’t want to specialize, but want to attract thousands of readers? Try partnering with mega firms. Examples of this include running Facebook ads, targeting marketing content on Outbrain and/or distributing press releases through major agencies. You can also ghostwrite for major media brands like Forbes, Entrepreneur, the New York Times, Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly.

Look for major media brands that pay ghostwriters. Some top brands allow you to leave your picture, name and a short bio. Include your website URL in your bio, taking you out of the ghostwriting sphere. The upside is an increased income and more traffic for your content.


In addition to writing for major media brands, you can network, market and write for popular websites and top social networking hangouts. eBiz tracks the top social networking spots and  the most popular websites. Some of the spots might surprise you. Others certainly won’t. ComScore also ranks popular websites. These are websites that generate large audiences. Leave comments, seek out inbound links and engage writers, editors and publishers at these websites for partnerships.

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Signs of bad freelance writing jobs

By Rhonda Campbell

freelance writing jobs to change

Found at Lifeway

Not all freelance writing jobs are created equal. High rates for freelance writing jobs start at $100 per hour and go up. Average rates per hour, and these are for lower paying projects, start at $60 to $70 per hour.

Oddly, if you look at most jobs posted at writing job boards, you’ll see clients who demand quick turnarounds, top quality, thorough research, self-editing from writers and bulk work. Many of these clients want all of this for less than $15 an hour when you factor in editing and publishing at content management systems.

Signs that your freelance writing gig isn’t good
As a freelance writer, you’d be hard pressed to convince demanding clients that their pay rates are low. They simply wouldn’t believe you. Why? Many entrepreneurs who hire freelance writers do not know average, low and high rates that writers are regularly paid. Some may be familiar with rates paid for quality freelance writing jobs and just hope that you’re a writer they can take advantage of.


The following advice is shared based on personal experiences that I have had as a freelance writer. The advice is also shared based on personal experiences that other professionals working freelance writing jobs have shared with me, editors and other writers. Signs of a bad freelance writing gig are:

1) Freelance writing jobs that pay below average or below your experience levels are a definite sign of a bad gig. Do yourself a favor, and familiarize yourself with average, low and high paying rates. The Editorial Freelancers Association post rates for editors. Writers Market post rates for writers. Writers Guild of America provides contractual, payment and other resources for writers, namely script writers.

There are other organizations and websites that list pay rates for quality freelance writing jobs. Do your homework. You might be surprised to find that you have been attracted to gigs that pay on the low end. If this is a fact, it might be time to strengthen your writing experience, background or training. You definitely want to get out of the belief that you are only worth pennies.

2) You get paid absolutely nothing if an editor pushes your work back. Consider writing a kill fee into your contract, especially if you work on a project that chews up lots of your time.

3) A client doesn’t pay you enough to afford to work solely for her. Yet, this client wants you to write 20 or more pieces of web content, press releases, blog posts and video scripts each week, allowing you to only take on more work if you log over 40 hours a week.

4) You’re asked to edit a piece. Cool enough. But, the client hasn’t even read through what you sent her. The client simply wants more keywords or wants the keywords placed in the content differently. You do two rewrites only to hear a week later that the client wants you to do a complete rewrite on 10 or more pieces of content you’ve submitted (the very same content this very same client asked you to only change keywords in earlier). If you don’t do the third round of edits, the client says she won’t pay you. This is a no brainer. This is a bad freelance writing job.

5) Turnaround time for freelance writing jobs is so tight that there is no way that you can work at top levels. You may want to step away from these gigs if you ask the clients for more time and they say “no”.

6) Clients want you to market writing you do for them at your social media sites, blogs, etc. Unless you’re also getting paid to market for a client, don’t accept this extra work as part of your “must dos” as a freelance writer.

7) Freelance writing jobs that require one to two hours of research work and another 30 minutes of editing on top of the actual writing but that only pay low rates (none of the rates considering the research and editing time).

8) Frequently delayed or no payments. This one needs no explanation.

9) Muddied or unclear directions from clients. Examples of this could be new clients not providing samples of what they want, not answering your questions clearly or constantly changing directions that they give you.

It’s up to you to ensure that you get good freelance writing jobs. As a tenth tip, make sure that you get a good contract. It’s a good idea to include the number of edits you will do on a project before you must be paid. Don’t be scared to add or discuss new protections that you want included in a writing contract. Clients are protecting themselves. You should protect yourself as well.


Here’s to hoping that you heed the above advice and start landing better freelance writing jobs, the types of freelance writing jobs that earn you an attractive income. As you start looking for signs of bad freelance writing jobs, you could also steer clear of a bad experience. The last thing that you need is to waste your time on a gig that ends up paying pennies, damaging your reputation or not paying you at all.

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Teens benefit from paying bills early

By Eric Bradford

paying bills poster

Found on Flickr

Managing money seems like a magical process when you don’t have to go work, when you aren’t responsible for paying bills. Yet, accountable adults know that balancing a budget and saving and investing wisely is anything but magical. It takes honesty, commitment and awareness to notice what you’re doing with your money. Simply receiving a significant income isn’t always enough to keep you out of debt.

Teens need to learn that money isn’t magic

Proof of this is revealed, in part, in the fact that the median annual income for Americans was at $52,098 as of June 2013. According to Huffington Post, “That’s down from $54,478 in June 2009, when the recession officially ended. And it’s below the $55,480 that the median household took in when the recession began in December 2007.”

The personal income downward shift that followed the Great Recession is a clear indicator that shows the value of developing strong budget and money management skills. Fail to gain these skills early and you might struggle, at times significantly. As a parent, you have the authority, access and influence to make the financial landscape easier for your children, particularly your teens.

In fact, budget skills you teach your teens could help them avoid going into debt, having their utilities shut off and their homes foreclosed. Steps you could take to teach your children about money and to help them develop healthy responsibility when it comes to paying bills for expenses that they create include:

  • Attending financial workshops with your children. Workshops that teach financial responsibility could inspire teens to taking paying bills on time seriously. (Check with your local bank to see if they offer free money management programs.)
  • Letting your children watch you sit down paying bills (takes the magic out of the money management process). When your teens see you paying bills, they see firsthand that paying bills isn’t a “magic” process. They also see that it can be done, that there’s no need to dodge or avoid bill collectors.
  • Discussing shopping choices with teens. For example, instead of working overtime to afford to buy teens their favorite video games, talk with teens about the many things they could use $50 to do or get. This might cause teens to start to think about what they really want, especially if they have to start paying bills for clothes, accessories and other purchases they want.

You could also let your teens pay their own cell phone and clothing bills. Instead of going grocery shopping while your teens stay at home, bring your teens with you. Depending on your children’s ages, you could also give them $80 to $100 and let them start grocery shopping. This single step can teach teens the value of money and how their purchasing decisions affect what’s in their wallet.

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Work from home tips that help you earn more money

By Rhonda Campbell

work from home money tipsThese work from home tips are based on years of firsthand experience. The tips could increase your profits, productivity and job satisfaction. One more huge plus — these tips could reduce your stress.

You already know that flexibility, the end of long commutes and the chance to achieve real work life balance are reasons why you and millions of other adults work from home. But, that doesn’t mean that working from home doesn’t come with challenges.

Why you need work from home tips

If you’re a working mother, you’ve felt the frustration of being asked to run errands, help with homework or babysit, all during your normal work hours. Just because you turned on your computer at home, people think they can give you projects to do for them.


Add these work from home tips to your day and you could see challenges disappear. For starters (this is really important), tell your family and friends that you’re working from home, actually working. You might tell them about projects that you are working on and how important it is that you complete the projects on time. Other work from home tips that work with this all important step are:

  • Post your work schedule on the refrigerator
  • List out projects that you are working at on a small chalkboard you’ve hung on your office door
  • Let your answering machine take phone messages while you’re working
  • Stop running minor errands during work hours
  • Stay on track with tools like IDoneThis (https://idonethis.com)
  • Upload finished projects into cloud software like DropBox (https://www.dropbox.com) or Trello (https://trello.com) to keep yourself honest, to encourage yourself to actually finish a certain number of projects each day.

Your work from home habits could increase or hurt your earnings

Other work from home tips have more to do with you, your routines and your mindset. Speaking of routines, make sure that you develop one. Set a start time, periods when you will take short five minute breaks and a 30 or 60 minute lunch break. Be clear about when you will end your day. If you don’t, you mind end up working damn near all the time. More about this below, and I hope you really pay attention.

Routine is where things can get tricky. If you don’t set and stick to a routine, you could go hours without taking a break (unless your bladder literally forces you to get up and go to the bathroom). Lunch might become a thing of the past and you could start working longer, even until the late evening.

More work from home tips are:

  • Get to know IT contacts. You may have found that your computer speed has slowed since you started telecommuting. Of all the work from home tips, this one could save you the most time, fits of impatience and outright anger. To keep your computer operating at an optimum level, avoid visiting websites that are riddled with ads, spam and cookies. Many companies have software that will block you from visiting the worst sites. You can also speed up your PC by clearing the cache files and only having a few documents and websites open at the same time.
  • Another thing – don’t let other people use your PC. If you worked at an office, you wouldn’t give this a second thought.
  • Figure out how much you are making by the hour. If you are paid $5,000 for a project and spend 300 hours to complete the project (about 2.5 months), you’re making $16.67 an Raise your rates to keep your hourly wage competitive.
  • Do your homework. Find out what other people in your industry are earning. It doesn’t matter if the people work from home or not. Just find out what the top, average and low wage ranges are. Assess your skills. Make sure that you are competitively paid for your skill level.
  • Continue to learn. Increase your skill level; negotiate to increase your wages.
  • Advertise your services. Keep your rates competitive. Working cheap is only going to attract clients who don’t think they should pay you well.
  • If you work from home for a corporation or other employer, visit your home office a few times a year. This can prevent you from feeling disconnected from colleagues and leadership. It could also keep your relationships with peers and supervisors strong.
  • Participate in online events that influence your industry. This keeps you connected.
  • Install comfortable furniture and equipment at your home office. If your keyboard is too high or too low due to your chair being the wrong height for your desk, your neck and back could start to ache.
  • Eat healthy. You need energy to stay focused, brainstorm and create ideas.
  • Yes! You’re glad that you could say “good bye” to that long commute to work, but that commute forced you to walk to and from your car or the train or bus station. Working at the office also required you to walk hallways and outside to pick up lunch. Make sure that you replace that activity by being mobile at home. Definitely, exercise for at least 30 to 45 minutes a day.
  • Sleep well. The brain needs to refresh. A good night of 8 to 9 hours of sleep is great for this. You might even want to wear an exercise wristband to measure how much deep sleep you get each night.

In addition to the above work from home tips, ensure that you stay in touch with relatives and friends. Spend time with friends and relatives on weekends. Don’t give into the temptation to work on weekends simply because you work from home. Also, monitor your productivity and eliminate distractions. This includes turning off the television, only checking work emails, not snacking needlessly and not surfing the web or reading social media posts.


Tools for people like you who want to earn more money while you work from home:

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Losing weight when you’re older

By Rhonda Campbell

lifting weights helps with losing weight

I remember a former colleague having a midlife crisis when she turned 30.  Yes – 30. Looking back, I wonder if she knew that everything was starting to change, that she wouldn’t be able to turn the clock back regardless of how hard she tried.

Losing weight really does get harder as you age

For years, I’d heard people exclaim that losing weight gets harder after you get older. “Starts after you hit your mid-30s,” some would say. Being a dedicated long distance runner in high school, I waved the talk off as nonsense. I don’t do that anymore.

Losing weight after you are a decade or more away from your roaring 20s is not easy. It’s not like it was when you could eat donuts, cheeseburgers, pizza and down soda only to wake the following morning sleek and toned. Losing weight when you’re older becomes easier the sooner you realize that your body is changing and start eating different foods.

Can’t say it enough – the sooner you realize what’s happening and start making the right changes, the better. That’s definitely tip #1.

Get eight to nine hours of sleep a night. Don’t think one matters? Test yourself. Sleep five to six hours a night for four days, then sleep eight to nine hours. Eat, drink and exercise the same on each of the days. Which days did you wake up weighing less? The days you slept less, or the days you slept more?

More ways to lose weight as you age

Start pumping iron. Your body loses muscle as it ages. Offset this by lifting weights. You can also do resistance exercises to build muscle, and speed up the weight loss process.

Add more protein and foods that are rich in fiber to your diet. Yes. That means fewer donuts and potato chips, but it’s a win that your knees, hips and thighs will thank you for. Black beans, lentils, broccoli, split peas, legumes, lima beans and blackberries are high in fiber. Fish, chicken, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, salmon, sardines and peanut butter are rich in protein.

Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Hormonal changes already cause blood sugar to spike as you age. Curbing your sugar intake could help you to lose weight. It could also help you to steer clear of diseases like diabetes.

Exercise in the morning and again after you eat your largest meal later in the day. An exercise fitness watch might motivate you to improve your exercise regime. It will definitely take the guessing out of your workouts.

Calories still count

Eat 500 fewer calories a day. A slower metabolism may still cause the weight to come down slower, but you will eventually lose weight if you don’t quit.

Perform 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three days a week. You could do this by jogging, climbing stairs or dancing. The importance is to train at a rapid pace to raise your heart rate. Interval training is another good cardiovascular exercise.

Change your workouts and diet as needed. If you reach a plateau and stop losing weight, cut back on calories further or lengthen your exercise training sessions. You could also increase your strength or weight training.

Regardless of the exercise and lifestyle dietary changes that you make, ensure that you are fit enough to take on a challenging exercise and dietary change. Also, get out and absolutely enjoy and savor life! As you find more ways to feel joyous, peaceful, rested and happy, your desire to reach for food to fill perceived gaps or losses in your life may reduce, possibly going away entirely.

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