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How to Market With a Content Series
Posted on April 18th 2014
I have exactly 5 links bookmarked in my browser — my email, social media, and a content series on e-book publishing. Blogging is a hobby of mine, one that stemmed from writing blogs for businesses. Writing, however, is something I’ve been passionate about since I was a kid.
E-book formatting, specifically, is my topic of choice. I enjoy the logical process of turning a pile of words into an e-reader-friendly format. I’ve dabbled a bit in self-publishing and did my own book design. Throughout the process, I realized it’s not the content and quality of e-books that generates negative feedback from readers — it’s the formatting.
A rookie mistake is to turn a Word document, convert it, and ship it off to Kindle and pray for a million purchases. This never happens.
So I started reading, researching, and practicing e-book formatting. The big world of Internet information provided everything I needed, though the delivery system was horrible. I would have dozens of browsers open to self-publishing blogs, tutorials on using Word Styles, and other pages I’d constantly re-reference for formatting advice. The top link is a blog by a self-publisher. But, instead of writing a 10,000-word tome on self-publishing, Jane Friedman collected useful resources in what I call a content series.
Businesses serious about blogging and generating leads should consider creating a series, or a way to showcase and link content through social media. A series not only structures your blogs, it also allows websites to exponentially increase inbound and outbound links for more online exposure.
Take these two as examples: The first is blog-oriented, and the second focuses on the niche of self-publishing e-books. Neither of these pages have a lot of content on them. Instead, they focus on compiling relevant blogs and links that coincide with a single topic.
As for business blogging, working off of a content series is an easy way to A) Generate content, B) Keep old posts alive, and C) Organize blogs. In addition, content series usually become permanent pages and are the links active followers bookmark for future reference. The final product can then be shared over social media (preceded by the individual posts) and generate even more exposure.
To create an authoritative, worthwhile, and entertaining series, you’ll need to incorporate a few elements:
1. Authoritative Series-Making
Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean it’s the last word on a subject. Feel free to pull in resources from notable websites and resources to add to your series. Consider having an “Additional Resources” subhead for these links. Make sure any references in the individual posts are properly cited to avoid word-theft.
2. Serializing Content
Start with a topic. Are you a home loan lender? Why not try, “Getting Your First Mortgage.” Are you blogging about blogging? Maybe, “10 Comprehensive Steps on Building a Business Blog.” The topics need to be broad enough so you can create content yet narrow enough that a specific audience will be interested.
To organize, I’d recommend starting with a generalized post that introduces the series. This may become the all-in-one comprehensive listing of future links, or you might decide to write a capstone post with the links and lists. Regardless, the series needs to be written in a timely manner that encourages frequent visits from followers.
Plan ahead, too, and add teasers/recaps to each post that guides readers through the series.
3. Avoiding the “Overdoing It” Crisis
Often, active bloggers become too engrossed in what they’re writing and go off explaining the entire series in a long-form post. Don’t do this. Not only is it easier to search out blogs on individual topics in a broad category, posts with manageable lengths and concise topics are also more reader-friendly.
Consider outlining the entire series early on. It’s a build-as-you-write process, and things may change. This is expected, but make sure the result reflects any major shifts in the plan.
4. A Note on Quality vs. Quantity
A poorly written post can ruin an entire series. These pop up when you start typing out the “boring” subjects within the content series. Set a minimum word count and work toward it. Still stuck writing bad content? Add in a few examples of what you’re trying to explain or some multimedia to spruce up the post.
5. Series Marketing
As mentioned, a content series has unfathomable marketing potential. I recommend making a series-specific hashtag to use. Tie the hashtag into tweets and FB links to your content. This allows followers to trace your series and see what else it includes.
6. The End Game
Once written, it’s time to compile the series into a comprehensive page. Like the examples linked in above, keep these pages short and sweet. Have an intro, easy-to-follow headings with links, and a listing of additional resources. All said and done, make the post into a page (a permanent link outside of your blog roll) to make it easier to find.
7. That Little Extra
What makes a series pop? Pictures, outside links, multimedia, and anything else that isn’t a big block of tutorialized text. Series posts will likely last much longer, and you need to be prepared to spend the time and effort to make them work to your advantage.
I can’t stress the pre-planning enough. It’s imperative to a series’ survival and worth to the online community. Unorganized, a series is only a mess of misaligned posts trying to speak all at once.