Make An Ebook To Promote Your Store

On May 16, 2011, in Content Creation, by lesley

The whole idea of writing an ebook is pretty daunting. All those blank pages, sitting waiting to be filled.

Then there are all the decisions that have to be made. How to lay it out, where to get pictures, what format to use.

Fortunately most of the key decisions are easy. You’ll find the details in a blog post by Blog Tyrant who sets out, pretty clearly, how it’s all done.

All except for the content which, I have to say, is actually the difficult bit. So lets tackle some of the basics.

How long does an ebook have to be.

There is a grey area between a report and an ebook. I’d say if you have pictures AND you’re more than ten pages long, you’re probably an ebook. Less and you’re a report. 10-15 pages with no pictures – could be either.

If it’s free, how good does an ebook have to be?

Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be good. You are trying to create an army of rabid fans. You won’t do that by providing poor information. The price, in many ways, doesn’t matter.

How Do I Write a Killer Title

With enormous care. Whatever you promise in your title, you need to deliver in your text. A ‘killer’ title sounds like something Stephen King would write about, the book title that kills you if you read it out loud. I imagine it means a title that ‘kills’ the opposition. Forget that. The best thing to do is find an angle on your subject which the opposition (if it exists, and you should probably worry if it doesn’t) hasn’t explored. Your title should make it clear why your book is useful. How to Make An Ebook is boring as titles go. How to Make an Ebook That People Will Read at least gives you a reason to read, though How to Make an Ebook to Promote Your Business is even better.

Why Should I Bother?

Yes, writing an ebook is a lot of work. If you have a business, you already have plenty to do, so why should you bother with an ebook? What will it get you?

It’s very common to create a short ebook or a report and give it away in exchange for an email address. Readers have to sign up on your list to get the book, once you have their email, you can market to them.

But that’s not the only thing you can do with an ebook.

  1. You can sell it. Clickbank is a good way to go.
  2. You can sell the rights to it so other people can sell it as theirs.
  3. You can have affiliates sell it for a large (even 100%) commission so your name and website spreads across the web.
  4. You can turn it into an audio file and add it to itunes.
  5. You can turn it into a powerpoint slideshow and make it a video lecture.
  6. You can turn it into a script and have yourself videod talking the contents into the camera.
  7. You can turn it into a course. Courses sell for a lot more than ebooks.
  8. Sell it on amazon in kindle format.
  9. Give it away as a bonus. If you have a store, this could be the thing that separates you from the competition. If not, you could give the ebook away as a bonus for attending a webinar or webinar series.

Last, but by NO means least – why stick with the ebook format at all? Why not go all the way and publish in print? It’s never been easier. Amazon’s createspace as well as Lulu make self publication simple, and if it is more expensive than digital publication it has the advantage of being tangible.

Even though Amazon now sell more books in digital form than in print, writing for print still gives you more credibility as an expert.

What was that? You don’t feel you are an expert in your field?

I could say that most of the gurus don’t let that stop them, but that might sound a bit sarcastic.

What I can say for sure, from personal experience, is that if you’re not an expert now, then when you’ve finished writing a book that contains real, solid, useful information, then you will be.

 

There are many many good reasons to write an ebook, but still most people don’t. What holds you back? I’d really like to know.

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How are you feeling today? Focused on your work? Getting through everything you need to?

Or are you thinking about the weekend?

Or the fact that you haven’t got your taxes done.

Or what you’re going to eat tonight?

Or maybe you’re just feeling grumpy about something that hasn’t gone quite the way you wanted After all, there’s a fair bit of life that doesn’t go as planned, and it’s not your fault, is it?

Of course the self-help gurus will tell you that you have chosen to be where you are today. And I can’t think of anything to say to that, because it’s rubbish, and as a statement, it makes me so mad I might have to be rude.

We can’t control the universe, stuff happens. Illness. Catastrophe. Death.

So if you have problems finding the motivation to work on your great escape from the 9-5, if you find your adventure in the land of ecommerce is not quite going as planned, then it’s probably just because life’s like that. And you have a life, so you can’t always be focused on your webstore. Right?

So what are you doing exactly?

Here’s what I’ve done today. I’ve written two articles, made a list of the next few that I have to write and I’ve commented on five websites. I’d have got through a lot more, but half way through the commenting I saw an advert on one site that looked like the sort of table I’m looking for, so I stopped and looked through the site. I got distracted. Does that ever happen to you? And then what was worse, I started to feel really angry with myself for being distracted and that lead to a feeling of helplessness. How can I succeed when I cant stay focused?

But that was the turning point. Because the one thing I know I can control, if I want to, is the way I feel. Whatever happens, no-one can make me feel anything I don’t want to, and the same is true for you. So don’t be distracted. Be determined.

The most amazing thing about taking charge of the way you feel is that it’s a lot easier than you think, largely because the body is an amazing machine. There’s a very simple technique you can use to set yourself on a positive path, you can produce positive emotions at will by doing something very simple; all you have to do is smile.

Scientific research has shown that it is possible to ‘see’ speicifc emotions in the way they activate the hemispheres of the brain as shown by an electroencephalograph (EEG) Positive emotions, for example are asscociated with the activiation of the left side front portion of the brain, and recent studies have shown that this happens when you smile, which you’d expect. After all, we smile when we enjoy something or we’re having fun. But the research went further.

As we all know, there are smiles and smiles. The genuine smile is one which has the ‘Duchenne marker’ named for the French neurologist G.B. Duchenne who first identified it. There are two major factors involved, the mouth and the eyes. It is of course quite possible to smile with the mouth only, but we all know the value of a smile which doesn’t reach the eyes. It’s a smile in name only.

So we shouldn’t be surprised to find that Dr Paul Eckman (TV fans may recognised the name – his research is the basis for ‘Lie to Me’) has proved the point, and this is important, that while we experience the smile and the emotion at the same time, the smile can produce the emotion. In a study where participants were ‘posed’ in the right smile (not as a result of any emotional stimulus) their EEG indicated that they experienced the same positive emotion.

What’s even more interesting is that the smile makes people react to you differently. As the experiment took place, observers were asked to rate the participants for certain personality traits. Those with a genuine smile were rated as more pleasant, outgoing and likeable, sincere, genuine and honest.

So there you are. You’re not alone. We all fight distraction -its the plague of the internet age. The real problem is the demotivation which results, and that we can fight.

So recognise that you get distracted. Set a limit on it. Promise yourself to get back to work at a certain time, set an alarm and stick to it. And when you get that feeling that you’d never succeed, that it’s all going nowhere, relax. Try again.

And don’t forget to smile.

Note: I’ll try to get this posted, but I do need to do some shopping right now …

How about you?

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Google Appliance as shown at RSA Expo 2008 in ...

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What’s the most powerful thing in the world?

Is it a word?
is it an action?
is it a feeling?

No. It’s none of those things.

The most powerful thing in the world is an idea. Ideas can begin small, but grow tall. Ideas can change the world.  Ideas make a difference.

Freedom is an idea.
Freedom is also a word.
And a word is a tool.

Words are the tools writers use to express ideas. That’s why a great piece of writing is still a great piece of writing even when it’s translated into another language.

It’s not just about the words.
It’s about the ideas behind them.

And that’s why, when you’re writing articles, press releases and blog posts to promote your business, it’s not the words you use that matter most.  Google, the great God of the Internet, demands regular sacrifices from its worshippers in a form that we call ‘content’. And content, so we’re told, should be original.

But once you’ve used the words, what then? How can you produce more ‘original’ content? Do you mash and mangle the words? Do you spin them into some great glittering garment suitable for sacrifice to the great god google?

Essentially – yes.

But you weren’t expecting me to say that, were you?

I’m not a fan of article spinners, because the result of their use is (usually) a badly written article. And while the words are not what it’s all about, their composition is part of the package. Grammar, spelling and even a good turn of phrase can help turn a blog from something that’s ignored to something that’s followed.

You can’t reuse the words, but what you can do is use the ideas.  Again and again and again. By storing the ideas, and not the words, you make it easy to create fresh original content.

And that’s what CHUNKS are all about. A way to keep your content fresh and original but easy and quick to produce.

Sound interesting?

More tomorrow.

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Why Content Isn’t King

On March 2, 2011, in Content Creation, by lesley

Those of your who promote your stores with articles have probably seen a recent email from ezinearticles.com which details a number of changes in their operating procedures. Ezine are trying to improve the quality of the articles they publish, something which we can all agree would be a good thing. Only time will tell whether the measures they have chosen will work.

Quality is very difficult to assess, can be subjective and is a question of context. An article written in Japanese is unlikely to convey any information to me since I can’t speak the language, yet it may be of enormous value to someone who does. If I’m an expert in a subject, will I value an article written for beginners, or view it as fluff?

And perhaps this is part of the problem. In any given market there are far more beginners than there are experts, hence you can expect to find that most of the content on the web will be addressed to an audience with very little specialist knowledge, and rightly so. Perhaps there is no real problem with Google’s search, just a problem with our expectations of it.

So, with that thought in mind, let’s try an experiment

Let’s do a Google search for ‘How to make writing interesting’

You might imagine there would be quite a lot on the web on this particular topic. In fact google said there were 177 million results. And yes, there is one on the front page from ezinearticles.com.

Here’s a quote from the article entitled ‘How to Make Writing Interesting’ submitted to ezine on February 28th, 2011. The author describes himself as an ‘seo content writer’ and is available for hire.

The one who loves to write must understand the importance of writing engaging content. In other words, we can say an interesting and engaging article, blog, or story will fascinate more readers than a bore article. If you want that more readers will appreciate your work then you have to make writing interesting. If you are not getting more readers then you shall recheck the document about what you have missed in the article.

You can read the rest of it here

The article goes on. The punctuation and spelling are of course correct, but speaking purely personally, I’d say the use of language is poor and the information content is minimal. None of these are major sins, but think a minute. This is one of the top ten articles on the web for this query, out of a possible 177,000,000.

Does that seem right to you?

Google’s view, and yes Google’s view still matters, whatever you think about Facebook, is that ‘Content is King’, or so we are told. But what’s interesting is that Google chooses to look at content in a particular way.

Let’s say a famous blogger writes a post on his own blog. It will almost certainly rank well because his blog ranks well. His site will have a reputation with google, readers will rush to it, link to it and comment on it.

But suppose that same famous blogger writes a guest post on this blog.

You’ll know.

And I’ll know.

And the regular readers will know.

But that’s about all.

Because it’s not about the content, not really, it’s about how many people find it and where it’s published.

Even though the content is original and written by the same world famous blogger, it won’t rank as well. It’s just like having Dan Brown or J K Rowling write a short article for their local newspaper. It doesn’t matter how good the article is, the world won’t flock to it because they don’t know it’s there. And they won’t find out from Google. So content isn’t King, Queen or even an Arch -Duke. Not yet.

Google, and all the other search engines have a problem to solve. Every day the content of the web grows, and not just because people like you and I are trying to promote our stores by writing good and useful content.

The web grows because it is filling up with rubbish, articles with lines like

‘It is important to write good content because good content is very important’

and much of that content is produced by ‘content farms’ where writers produce large numbers of articles in a short time for very little money. One such ‘farm’, Demand Media, is said to produce over 1,000,000 new items of content per month.

And yes, they are competing with you. And I, and everyone on the web.

They may not write as well, they may not be so informative, but that, as we’ve seen is not what matters.

Throughout the centuries since the invention of the printing press publishers have been responsible for checking the quality of the work they launch on the world, but that doesn’t mean grammar and spelling. It also means quality of content. When I wrote my first book, its progress was painful. The publishers sent it to no less than five experts to get their input, and since everyone has a different opinion I had to prove my facts were correct before the book could be published.

Internet publishers don’t take that kind of responsibility. They rarely look further than spelling and grammar, and since it is quite possible to write meaningless twaddle but spell it beautifully, the web is awash.

Here’s what Matt Cutts had to say on the official Google Blog

“people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content.”

So Google launched an algorithm change which is designed to impact 11.8% of queries by reducing the ranking of low quality sites and increasing the ranking of sites which provide useful content. Guess which type of site ezinearticles.com wants to be?

Hence the changes.

Google wants to ensure that high quality content does much better in the search engines. Good for Google. But not so easy to do.

In the real world, reputation isn’t measured in quite the way that Google does it. A location can have a reputation. A company can have a reputation, but mostly reputations belong to people. So one suggestion is that in the future, rankings will (at least in part) depend on ‘distributed reputation systems’ which will include the reputation of the author.

This isn’t a particularly new idea and there’s no doubt that it will be difficult to implement, but with the advent of services which can verify an online identity (while keeping it confidential) this seems likely to at least factor in the great Google algorithm at some time in the future.

So Google will be looking for articles written by someone with a good reputation – but how will that be established? Surely not by quantity alone?

Scientists have long been guilty of defining information in terms of quantity. As Professor Ian Stewart put it in his 1998 book ‘Life’s Other Secret’, quantity is not the vital factor:

However, what’s really important about a message is not the quantity of information, but its quality. “Two plus two makes seventeen” is longer than “2+2=4” but is also nonsense.

So Google has an uphill struggle ahead, finding ways to tweak (technical term) their search algorithm so that you and I, who care about content, can receive our due. There will be many changes and we, as always, need to run to keep up.

Or do we?

If instead of scheming to manipulate, we simply concentrate on producing good content, perhaps in time, Google will catch up with us.

 

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Internets = srs.biz. Parody motivator.

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It has taken me a little while to recover from the weekend, because it was a particularly good one. My daughter made an absolutely fabulous castle shaped cake, complete with turrets, and we went to see the Green Hornet, though probably it’s best to say as little about that as possible. As a finale, my son quite excelled himself when it came to our regular session of Dungeons and Dragons.

It wasn’t easy, since the bad guy, the revolting Surgeon King, had enhanced his evil creation. Number 76B  now has six arms, every one of them a sword wielding menace. But we got through, and the surprise was, it was because we got help from an unlikely source. A character who was not what he seemed.

And that turned into a full scale discussion about our whole journey from the UK to the USA, and the things which had not turned out to be what we expected.  One of them was ebusiness.

I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told me that e-business is not what they expected, and I’d have to agree. When I started my nightgown business I fondly imagined Id spend most of my life thinking about fabrics and designs, when in fact the main concerns are traffic and conversion. And that’s saying nothing at all about the amount of writing that’s involved.

So, for those who are still starting on the e-business journey, here’s an idea of what you can expect.

When you decide to go into business online, you may have no idea what sort of business you are interested in. If that’s the case, your first job is research. You’ll find more ways to make money than you can possibly imagine (and just as many people willing to take money to show you how to do it) but experts agree that when you’re starting up, and probably still have a day job, the best thing to do is start a webstore, selling physical products online.

You need very little money to invest, and you don’t need much technical skill. It is unlikely that one store will make a you fortune, but it should make you money within a reasonable time (1 year to 18 months, though it can be sooner) and when it does, you can look at schemes which require more investment (or time or money) or you can simply open another store and do it again.

You first task is to find a niche, something you can feel good about selling and either know about or feel happy to learn about. Something lots of people want to buy, but not too many other people are selling. Something with a good profit margin, related magazines and a possibility of repeat sales is ideal. Then you can really get started, and it’s all about research and making choices.

  • Find a domain name and register it
  • Research the different possible shopping carts.
  • Choose one.
  • Start building your webstore
  • Start building a blog
  • Open a  twitter account
  • Get a facebook page
  • And, while you’re doing all that, find a company who are willing to drop ship the product for you.

Drop shippers are a special type of wholesaler who allow you to buy from them only when you have sold to your own customer. You hold no stock and the drop shipper ships direct to the customer. Of course you don’t make as much profit as you would using more traditional methods, but you don’t have to risk money on stock, either. You can always move to traditional retail once your webstore is successful.

You have no idea what you’re doing, so you have to learn, and you learn as quickly as you can.

Once you’ve sorted out the products, you load them into the shop and off you go! You’re in business.

Only you’re not, because the Internet is a REALLY big place and your store is really tiny.  Unless you have lots of money to spend on advertising, you have to set to and start promoting your store. It’s out there, but no-one is visiting, you have no ‘traffic’.

And that’s when you realize that Internet business isn’t what you expected it to be.

You spend a lot more time writing articles and submitting them, tweaking your website and twittering, than you thought. And if you don’t like writing, it can seem like you’re in hell. But you’re not.

Because one day, as long as you don’t give up, you get that first sale. And you realize that all the head scratching, the learning, the long hours, the forcing yourself to do things you didn’t want to do and never expected to do,  has actually produced a result.

You keep going, promoting your store in every way you can, and the sales begin to increase, and soon there is money to reinvest, to get an assistant to do a couple of those things you don’t enjoy, and maybe even run the whole store. Because you went through the whole process yourself, you know exactly what an assistant needs to do. And so you take the next step.

You find another niche.
And you do it all again.

Because by now the goal is in sight. You know how it’s done, you can do it again, and again if need be. And when the store makes enough profit you have what everyone dreams of; freedom from the 9-5, financial security, a job you can’t be fired from.

But it won’t have been what you expected when you started.

Has your e-business turned out as you expected? Does the description above surprise you or disagree with your experience?

Leave a comment. I’d really like to know.

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Motivation: Money.

On February 16, 2011, in Something To Write About, by lesley

We’ve all seen the comedy sketch where the actor, pretending to be a ketchup bottle, stops everyone mid-scene because he can’t find his motivation. We all laugh, finding motivation is funny.

But one of the wonderful things about the recent series of webinars has been the questions you have sent in, and one thing that’s pretty clear is that motivation is a big problem for people starting out in the internet business. Much more so than we thought.

I’m not just talking about fear of failure here, that’s something quite different. I’m talking about finding the mental attitude that gets you to work after work , to add yet more tasks to a hectic life, to play less and produce more; all things you have to do when you’re still working a nine to five job, but trying hard to escape.

Because it is hard work, whatever the other internet gurus tell you, so how can you find the right motivation?

It’s always interesting when scientific research and the gurus of academia catch up to what you and I have always known – in this case I found an interesting post on Yaro Starak’s blog which pointed out the new research shows – guess what?

Material reward is not enough.

There is more to life than money.

I suspect that this view depends very much on your current situation. If you’ve no job, no income and a family to support, it seems there is little more to life than the desperate need for everything money can buy – making money a superb motivator. Maybe  money can’t buy you happiness, but it can help you feel miserable in great comfort.

But move on from that – and people do, does the situation remain the same?

The question I get asked most often is ‘How do I find stuff to write about? My business is XXX and I really don’t like it much or know much about it.’

And that’s the webstore problem in a nutshell.

You can wrap it up in any fancy terminology you like, but most people start an online business because they want money. They may call it financial independence, but it boils down to the same thing. They choose a business model and a product for entirely financial reasons.

And as a motivation, that works. For a while. But then it gets to be a chore. You have no interest in the subject, you spend hours trying to learn stuff, and as a result you are very very open to those who tell you they can do it all for you, if you just part with a few thousands of dollars.

Or you give up before you get to success. Yes, some gurus will admit that it really isn’t that hard, i’ts just that most people give up too soon.

Now I’m not trying to say that money isn’t useful, or important, or that you should ignore financial concerns when you plan your ebiz. Far from it.

But really it doesn’t have to be a chore. The old adage about doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life, can be true.

Humans aren’t about stuff. They’re about feelings and concepts; about love, and beauty and feeling fulfilled.

Yes, I know it sounds corny but remember another saying –  that a man on his deathbed never regrets missing time at the office.  So what if it is corny – this is Valentines week and I can mention the L word if I want.

Now the good news! An internet business can be the key to a new life which provides everything you need, and no, I’m still not talking about money here.

I’m talking about

  • a way to express yourself
  • a way to be creative
  • a way to be fulfilled
  • a way to have fun

and

  • a way to be free

but you have to choose wisely – don’t do something you don’t want to do, just because you think it’s a route to easy money.

Research your products and ideas around things you like, in fact, start with things you are passionate about. If you can’t find the right thing,  look for something you can get passionate about. Something you love which solves a problem for other people.

Yes, you will have to do things you don’t enjoy at first, but it’s temporary. Once you have made some money you can outsource the tasks you hate and concentrate on those you love.

There’s nothing wrong with money unless you lose site of the fact that it’s not money you want – it’s a means to an end, and so is doing business on the internet.

What’s your motivation?

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Alas and Alack; The Bear Is Dead.

On February 14, 2011, in Article Marketing, by lesley
It was a fraught weekend. After crossing the stones of desolation we trekked across the southern wastelands – entirely barren apart from a cave system we discovered. Inside we were able to piece together a stone which showed the rise of Ethermaw, a formidable dragon, whose battle with his peers, over a thousand years before, had laid waste to half a continent.

Despite the knowledge we gained, we were ambushed by slob goblins as we rushed to cross the narrow landbridge between the wasteland and Kuk, the Southern continent. The Bear, with the rest of his team, held off the attackers while we made our escape, and although I tried hard to rescue him with my magic spear, lengua afilado, he failed to grasp it in time, and was swept away.

It was a sad moment, and as I’ve mentioned before, we like to have a sound track for our adventures. Here’s the theme we played to honour The Bear.

Now you’re probably wondering what on earth this has to do with you. Not everyone finds it easy to relate to Dungeons and Dragons, but believe me there is a point to this.

I believe firmly in article marketing. As a method of web site promotion it works for many reasons, but an increasing number of people are telling they don’t want to do it in case their articles are stolen.

Seriously. And I suppose you don’t want to access the internet in case you find there’s porn out there.

In other words, yes of course your articles will be stolen. Unless they’re rubbish, or about something noone is interested in.

I can remember when I had the odd worry about that, but now, frankly I’m more worried when they’re not, ‘cos it means they’re not very good.

Last year I wrote an article making business predictions about 2010. Nothing Earth shattering, but it is one of my more popular articles and it has been in the ezine index for over a year now. Yesterday I checked with google and found the first few lines on almost 60 websites. There are far more if I look for just the title, people lift the article and put it through a spinner to produce some of the funniest prose you are likely to find. Believe me you don’t WANT your name and web address attached to that.

Most peculiar is the fact that ezine shows that particular article hasn’t been republished at all, yet you can find it word for word on a number of other sites, some even include my name, but alas, no backlink. (I would name names here, but I don’t want to give them a link they don’t deserve)

Yes, this is irritating, but does it mean that article marketing doesn’t work? No.

I have lots ofl articles in the ezine directory which have been published, the legitimate way, many times. And each one provides one or even two links back to my site.

Those that have never been published by anyone, still provide links back to my site from the ezine directory.

If you do find that you can’t live with the situation don’t get worked up about it. There is a procedure you can follow. Here’s a link to an article which will tell you how to do it – guess where I found it?

Ezinearticles.com.

So don’t be like The Bear and miss your opportunity. Grab it with both hands, get those articles out  there, boost your ranking, drive some traffic and wherever you can, promote the use of article spinners. The more people who steal your stuff, spin it into rubbish and publish, the better it is for those who write good content, because then we really will stand out from the crowd.

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Designer Vera Wang at Ralph Lauren's 40th Anni...

Image via Wikipedia

No, you haven’t arrived at the wrong blog.  This article caught my eye because its a great example of a headline about a trending topic. And that’s a technique we can all use.

Do go ahead and read the article. You don’t have to care about royal weddings, or in fact any kind of wedding, just read the article and see just how much it has to do with THE royal wedding which is coming up in April of this year.

EXCLUSIVE: Vera Wangs Wedding Gown Suggestions for Kate Middleton.

Done that?

Right. There is one sentence. A quote from Ms Wang saying that the dress should should have ‘pomp and circumstance’

The rest of the article is all about a new line of wedding gowns, but I’m guessing the headline got a lot more publicity than one which said

‘Vera Wang Launches New Line of Wedding Gowns’

and although Ms Wang is not designing the royal dress and in fact has not designed any of the royal dresses, and has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the royal wedding, she is now in the ‘royal’ debate.

It’s an object lesson in how to use trending events to create articles and blog posts which will catch the eye.

And there are lots coming up.

There’s the Royal Wedding, the 2012 Olympics, and of course the expected end of the world.

If you’re looking for something a little bit sooner, and perhaps a little less drastic – new film releases can also be a way to catch the eye – you can find out what’s coming up at http://www.film-releases.com/film-release-schedule-2011.php

So link your product to an up coming event, or a celebrity and bring in some more traffic – and in our celebrity obsessed world you might even convert some more visitors while you’re about it.

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Silk Roses

Writing articles is easy. Writing a blog isn’t that hard. Tweets are short, hubs and lenses, well, they’re pretty much like articles. Press releases are something you get the hang of once you know how they’re done, so really, content creation is  a bit of a breeze. All except for one thing.

Articles, tweets, blogs, hubs, PR’s and lenses are all designed to bring traffic to your site, but that’s not enough. If you want to make money from the your webstore, you need to convert visitors into customers. The last link in the content chain is your sales pitch and the weird thing is that this is often the aspect of ebusiness which attracts the least attention.

Every product page in your webstore is a sales page but what does that mean? If you follow the example of the internet gurus, you’d need an eye catching headline

A few disjointed lines, probably in red

Some testimonials from customers anxious to report how your product changed their life.

and paragraph after paragraph designed to overcome your resistance to the sales process.

BUT

no price – just an add to cart button of enormous proportions.

Of course no-one in their right mind would write a product page that way.

So what should you do?

The usual advice is exceptionally  general.

Concentrate on the benefits of the product, rather than its features.
Use words and pictures to show how the product fits into, and improves, your customer’s life.

And there it usually stops. Some gurus then insist the product description must come before the ‘buy’ button, while it seems just as many say it must come after.

Some experts say the description should be detailed, others that simple bullet points are best.

The truth is that most of the ‘guru’s spend their time selling courses and information and not physical products, and even if they do, they don’t sell the same physical products as you.  Surprise surprise, not all markets are the same.

it’s time to do some research
and apply some common sense

Visit some other stores and look closely at their product pages. Go shopping. Find out what annoys you and what you find helpful.

Above all, remember that this product page is quite likely the only page of your website your customers has ever seen.

Try to provide all the information the customer needs in order to make the decision to buy. Try to think of all the questions a buyer might ask and make sure all of it is available, preferably without having to click at all. If you do have information the customer has to to click to get (like a size chart) have it appear in a separate window, not on a separate page.

As a minimum you need to explain how the product solves your customers problem, and in order to do it briefly you need to apply what is known as the Trifecta Neuro-Affective Principle.

See the problem from your customers point of view. Build your sales text around three points

  • Relate to the customer
  • Redefine the problem with reference to the solution offered
  • Address the most common objection(s) to purchase

Most product pages concentrate on the second point, ignore the first and rely on other web site pages and graphics to address the third.

Here’s a possible example. Lets say you sell artificial floral arrangements and you have determined that your customers value these because they beautify their home without providing any maintenance problems, but they are often concerned that shipping costs will be high.  You might put a shiny graphic on your page saying ‘free shipping’ but you need to be sure your customer knows it applies to him/her.

You can get straight to the point with a headline which connects with the customers because it addresses those points and uses emotional trigger words like beautiful and elegant.

This beautiful arrangement of roses and peonies will add elegance to your home without the maintenance of fresh flowers and at a fraction of the cost.

  • Ready arranged so you don’t have to. No drooping flowers, dropped leaves or water marks on the furniture, just bright beautiful flowers every day.
  • This arrangement is 15 inches high by 21 inches wide, in a quality porcelain vase and is very realistic.  Your friends will never know your flowers are artificial.
  • Free shipping makes even the largest arrangement affordable.

or you could write this, which I copied from a similar website.

Rose and Peony Silk Flower arrangement

  • 15″H x 21″W
  • Crackled Finish Porcelain
  • Designer Silk Stems


I know which one would persuade me to buy.

How about you? What do you think is the most difficult part of writing a product description?

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How to Blog With Passion

On January 18, 2011, in Content Creation, by lesley
Red Sky, White sparks
Image by Clav via Flickr

I haven’t blogged for a while.

O.K. That’s a lie. I have, but not here. Since the New Year most of my posts have been over at EasyContentBlueprints because we’re running some exciting webinars over there and that’s where my focus was.

So this is my first post here for the year. And because this is my own, personal site, where I don’t have to worry about what other people want, or like, I decided it would be a good one, a stirring post, something that would get the year off to a momentous start.

So here we are. Let’s get momentous.
And …

No.

It’s not working. Come on lets go!  Put some passion into it!

Do you ever have days when you sit down, and somehow the enthusiasm is just not there?
If you said yes, never think you’re alone.
My inbox is filled with emails from people with webstores, or with products to sell, who chose their products for lots of good reasons, but without realy understanding what the job of selling on the internet entails. People who sit down, knowing they have to blog or write an article and all have the same question – what can I write about?

To misquote Monty Python – where’s the passion? It’s over there in the box. But it was squeezed out because the necessity and the boredom put on weight.

And just like no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition, noone expects that their major activity after launching their webstore will be writing.
But it is.

There are product descriptions, landing pages and newsletters.Press Releases, blog posts and articles.
and tweets and even (shudder)
facebook pages

And the worst thing about them all is that when you really don’t have any enthusiasm, it comes across in your writing. I know this and I’m still guilty of it. Here’s an extract from two product descriptions I wrote last year.

Blue chiffon nightgown with crossover straps

Delicate nightgown in shimmering blue chiffon

The first description tells you more about the nightgown
The second descriptions sells.
Can you guess which nightgown I liked best?

So how can you find a passion for your product and put some fire into your blog posts?

Most of the gurus will tell you you don’t have to know anything about the niche product you choose to sell.

They’ll also tell you that you don’t need to use it or like it.

And they’re right. You don’t.
As long as you can afford to hire other other people to do the writing for you.
If you can’t, you face long hard hours churning out prose you don’t believe in, a soul destroying activity for anyone.

So the easiest way to blog or write with passion is to feel enthusiasm for your product. Don’t choose a niche based purely on the figures. Don’t promote something you wouldn’t buy.

But what if you’e already chosen. Your niche is OK, but you’ve run out of steam?
It happens to everyone, including me, so here are some of the things I do.
Let’s start with the easy ones.

Take a step back. A biscuit and a cup of tea is restorative if you’re just feeling a bit tired.
Listen to music, something fast paced, something to pep you up.Some people go for short walk.
Whatever you do, don’t put the writing off.

Better now?

If not, here’s the harder thing.

Realize that if you feel fed up and bored it’s because you want to. Your mood is your business. Change it.  Because feeling bored and fed up while you write isn’t going to to do you any good. And that dream of financial independence and freedom will more than likely stay a dream.

So summon  those desires and take energy from them. Think about how great it will feel to sit by the pool or the ocean while your webstore fills your bank account and feel grateful for the opportunity to do it. Then grab those good feelings in both hands, top up with tea and biscuits and write as though your dreams depended on it, because they do.

Write about something you’ve never written about before. Forget your products and take a wider view.  Look to the side, to the future and to the past. If your product is cookware, for example,  you can write about recipes, about special occasion meals, about party planning. Take a wider view and you’re talking about interior design, move to the past and look at historic recipes, or move to the future and look at cooking trends. Somewhere, in there, is a subject you can talk about with passion and enthusiasm.

But you won’t find it unless you look. It won’t just fall into your lap. An e-commerce store can turn into a nightmare. Or it can be the realization of a dream.

Which will you choose?

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