The Point

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Jun

33 Dependable Sources to Get Content Marketing Ideas

Content marketing ideas

You’ll find a ton of blog posts and resources intended to help give you content marketing ideas. Most of them present various angles marketers are using now. You know… how-to’s, lists, comparisons, newsjackers, customer stories, etc.

I’ve written plenty of content in this vein, including posts (and infographics) to help you generate video marketing ideas, infographics, and lead magnets, such as eBooks.

In this post, rather than GIVE you content marketing ideas, I’m going to tell you how (or where) to GET them.

Mostly, you “steal” them. But as I hope you know, I don’t mean you plagiarize the content other brands publish. That’ll get you nowhere. What I mean is marketing ideas are inspired by a myriad of resources—online and off.

The long list that follows explains exactly what I mean. I rely on these resources and you should too.

1. Search

Begin a search in Google or Bing. You’re not only going to find a quick little surplus of ideas, but ideas people actually search for. Because…

Google Auto Complete

The search engine will attempt to guess what you’re searching for. As it detects your intention, it will suggest ideas. This is called Google Autocomplete.

People also ask

Somewhere on the page, often at the top, you may see common questions (“People also ask”) and answers, a feature that appears as an increasingly common response when searches are phrased as questions.

Of course, the search results themselves may give you ideas.

Searches related to

And for most searches, at the bottom of the page, you’ll see “Searches related to….” More ideas.

2. Competitors’ blogs and FAQs

If you’re not eyeing the content your competitors create, you should. You might even want to setup Google Alerts or any media monitoring tool to keep tabs on your competitors and your industry at large.

 

Google Alerts

Check out their blogs and content hubs. You’re likely to find topics you can cover better, or differently. The same goes for the FAQ. Perhaps your answer to what a competitor claims is a frequently asked question merits developing an article or some form of content. Perhaps your big muscular answer makes theirs look weak.

3. Books

Say hello to Amazon, a haven of content ideas. What do people write books about in your industry?

Look inside book

“Look inside” a relevant book (a feature most Amazon books offer). Whoa… the preview feature shows you the book’s table of contents, which may contain all kinds of content marketing ideas.

4. eBooks

Ebooks, of the freebie variety, are offered on Amazon, Scribd, SlideShare, and well, everywhere. The companies you compete with certainly market them. Searching for eBooks on a specific topic will present them to you.

Mine them for ideas. Or take one you like and do something different with it.

I’ve written numerous successful blog posts based on an eBook, or a collection of them. They often contain quotes, statistics, research, examples, and other components that make it easier to include highly credible citations and links.

5. Magazines

Remember magazines? I don’t buy as many as I once did, but I haven’t forgotten them. I subscribe to several in the digital marketing realm. Most of them are free.

I don’t read them cover-to-cover. In fact, sometimes I don’t get to them at all. But often, they become my reading material at the gym or for late night reading (is that sad?). In any case, they give me ideas.

I don’t mean to rail on any publisher in particular, but I’ll tell you most of the magazines I get about my field—digital marketing—feature fairly lightweight articles. Magazines do that.

However, the topics often have potential, so they inspire ideas for me to create posts, eBooks, infographics, slide decks, videos, etc.

6. Research

Research rocks content marketing, that is, published research reports. Join the mailing list of leaders in your industry and pay special attention when they publish research. It’s gold.

Next, use parts of it in your content. Or mine it for ideas.

Social media tactics

One of my most popular posts, What Social Media Tactics Are Most Effective?, literally plucks the idea from Social Media Examiner’s annual industry research report. They listed the most common questions their readers ask. I decided to answer the top one. I did so simply by researching and rounding up the best content on the topic based on reading the posts that came up on the first page of search.

7. Courses

Udemy curriculum
Online courses are everywhere and aggregated, for your convenience, on services such as Udemy, Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda). Much like books, they are chapterized, so a quick review of the course outline (a table of contents) is bound to be full of ideas.

8. Conferences

Here’s one of those online and off resources. Offline, or in the real world, you can attend conferences (and probably should for networking purposes). When you do, you’ll have the chance to experience several helpful keynotes, sessions and workshops.

You’ll also be given a program. Keep that thing and refer to it when seeking a content marketing idea.

Even if you can’t make it to a conference, the agendas of conferences past and future are published online.

Conference organizers will carefully vet ideas for sessions submitted by potential speakers. They tend to select the ones they believe will draw the most interest. Now there’s a cool shortcut. Someone else—probably a committee of experts—did the research for you.

Virtual summits have all kinds of models, but are essentially conferences as well, so if your industry offers them, the same strategy can be applied.

9. Podcasts

You may be producing podcasts, listening to them, or ignoring the podcasting revolution. But understand: podcasting also presents a place and resource for mining content marketing ideas.

podcast episodes

Can’t find the time? You need not listen. I must admit, though I have a podcast, I seldom listen to them. What I’m suggesting is that you simply peruse the titles of the podcasts for ideas.

10. TV

Are there television stations and networks broadcasting programs related to your industry? You can use your remote control to peruse the programs by doing a search. Or you can use the web.

There’s no doubt in my mind television programming pros are not producing shows on topics no one cares about. For me, talk shows and demonstration shows come to mind. For instance, folks like Dr. Oz and Rachel Ray are creating shows, or program segments, about topics the viewers appreciate. Thanks to the proliferation of stations, examples of highly specific programs about highly specific topics are nearly endless.

11. YouTube

Internet TV applies here too. What’s Maria Forleo up to? What are vloggers like Jenna Marbles doing? Which shows are killing it for views in your field?

YouTube

Do a search on YouTube and gather all kinds of ideas.

12. Buzzsumo

You may serve a highly specific niche and benefit from content whether or not it reached a lot of eyeballs and earned a lot of mentions.

However, learning what has indeed earned substantial social media shares and links will be helpful in your quest to discover effective content marketing ideas.

Use Buzzsumo to search by topic, URL or author. You’ll get an instant report on posts and pages that performed best.

buzzsumo

I often search Buzzsumo to see the results leaders in my field get from their content. The big winners often spark ideas worthy of content development.

13. Quora

The popular Q&A website Quora is a forum for just about everything. The questions there, and answers, will give you ideas.

Quora related questions

Be sure to check out the related questions.

14. Wikipedia

Wikipedia is like the world’s HQ for finding tables of contents or related ideas. Seriously, search anything. Bam! You could find:

  • Detailed posts
  • Links galore
  • A table of contents to inspire a crazy number of ideas
  • A “See also” section with even more ideas
  • Notes (footnotes), references, further reading, external links
  • And more

Wikipedia

For most inquiries or topics, Wikipedia is so rich with content marketing ideas, you may not even need another source.

15. News aggregators

I got this idea (and hundreds more) from Andy Crestodina on his blog at Orbit Media. (I’m a contributor there.) Andy explains news aggregators pull blog feeds and newsletters together and can therefore be a rich source of ideas.

AllTop

Andy recommends Feedly and Alltop and writes they are “…great for both research and organization.” He says, “Search for your topic and scan through the headlines with your next post in mind. Within minutes, you should spot a few themes and memes that you can repurpose on your blog.”

16. Blog comments

You have a blog, right? It’s the main reason you’re reading this long list post about where to get content ideas.

Does your blog welcome comments and questions from readers? The truth is bloggers feature comment sections less than they used to, which is probably because readers chime in less than they used to.

Still, whether it be on your blog or elsewhere, blog comments are easy to find and capture cool things such as:

  • Questions and challenges readers have
  • Objections readers have
  • Links to related resources
  • And potentially, ideas for expanding your content regarding topics readers have shown interest in

17. Email

For better or worse, I subscribe to a ton of email newsletters and updates from marketers, influencers, and relevant industry publishers. I suspect you do too.

I must admit, my morning routine generally consists of zapping 95% of them—and from time to time I go on an opt-out rampage—however, I read the subject and from lines and click-through at least a few times everyday. And that inspires ideas.

You absolutely must monitor what’s being published in your niche and, when you’re shopping for ideas, email will help feed them to you.

18. Phone calls and conversations

This may be the most under-appreciated or least mined source on the list I’m presenting. However, you’re having conversations with prospects, customers, and various types of associates daily, right?

These conversations inevitably invoke questions. Your challenge is to pay close enough attention to record them for posterity. The questions people ask you and the issues they face—especially when they care enough to take the time to ask you in conversation—are likely the most important topics you need to tackle with your content.

19. Idea generators

If you’re main game is marketing, you’re probably aware other marketers (with the required resources) create free idea generation tools. If you moonlight as a marketer, now you know.

There are quite a few worth trying…

Answer the Public

  • Answer the Public is quite handy for generating a mindmap of related ideas and questions.

Portent's Idea Generator

20. Keyword tools

Keyword tools are everywhere, free and paid. Of course, if you’re a serious SEO researcher, you’ll want to consider the paid tools and identify the feature sets and fees that work best for you. Here, for the simple purpose of hunting for content marketing ideas, I’ll present three you’re likely to find helpful and easy to use.

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner—The free tool from Google was created to help marketers plan pay-per-click ad campaigns. However, whether you buy ads or not, the tool will generate lists of related keywords based on the terms you enter and broadly estimate search volume, making it a good starting point for content marketing ideas.
  • Ubersuggest
  • Keyword Tool.io

Ubersuggest and KeywordTool are similar and focus on generating a long list of related search terms, largely of the long tail variety, in an alphabetical format. Search volume is not indicated with the free versions. There is, to a limited degree, a variety of ways to stratify searches (by search engines and search types). Ubersuggest includes a word cloud display option, but it’s probably more of a toy than a tool.

21. SlideShare

SlideShare, a LinkedIn company, is a massive content hub, where presentations, documents, and infographics are uploaded. The service doesn’t appear to thrive to the degree it once did, however, LinkedIn claims to have 18 million uploads in 40 content categories.

Screen Shot 2017-06-03 at 9.47.25 AMChances are, a little searching and clicking around on SlideShare will help stir up some ideas. I’ve used it as a research tool for years and occasionally base content on what I find there, cite it as a source, or even embed the content when it’s helpful.

22. Pinterest

Today, Pinterest is one of the top 60-70ish websites in the world (Alexa rank of 63). Though it’s known to skew toward a female audience, believe me, there is no subject you can search for on Pinterest that won’t return an amazing amount of content.

Pinterest also sends you amazing emails based on your interests.

Pinterest personal branding

Warning: Pinterest is highly addictive.

23. Google Alerts

Google Alerts basically brings search results to you. Free. At whatever interval you choose. A free service, Google Alerts sends you emails when it finds web pages, newspaper articles, blogs, or research that match the search terms you sign up for.

Google Alerts personal branding

I love it. I use it to monitor my name, website, books, the areas of interest I write about in digital marketing, and the categories/topics my clients do business in. If you’re monitoring (and swiping ideas) for something specific, you definitely want Google Alerts in your arsenal.

24. Social media channels

I’ll say it again: social media is the greatest market research tool ever. The almighty hashtag… lists… groups… communities… lists… chats… discussions… analytics…

Slice it how you will, but understand the conversation about whatever it is you’re looking to have a conversation about is taking place on the popular social media channels.

And, in my mind, what makes it so great as a research tool for finding content marketing ideas, is it’s “au naturel.” What I mean by that is it’s not masked by editors. Consumers create the content. How can social media not provide important clues about what people care about?

25. Forums

I have to admit, I’m not much of a forums guy. But I’m not trying to market to me. And though it may be “old school” Internet, there are forums about everything. And you know what takes place there? People search for the answers and advice they seek.

forums for dog obedience

Find a forum in your niche simply by including the word “forum” in a search and you’ll see what I mean. When you find the right one (or more), you may never need another source of content marketing ideas.

26. Groups

I believe LinkedIn was the trailblazer of social media groups, but Facebook appears to the reigning king. Your call as to which groups sound more appealing or deliver more insights for your niche.

The point is, like forums, there are groups about everything. Unlike forums, on social channels, they are often moderated by an organizer who decides how “open” the group is or isn’t.

In any case, by becoming a member in a LinkedIn or Facebook group, you’ll be in the company of like-minded people who ask smart questions, deliver personal insights regarding them, and offer valuable resources. You’ll gather ideas, I promise.

Of course, you can also start your own group, as I have done (with my co-author) to support my new book, The Road to Recognition. Conversations there are often about book promotion.

27. Sales people

Perhaps it should be more obvious: the people who field questions from prospects are the most likely to know what questions need to be answered. Treat them as a resource.

  • Ask your sales people to record and share the questions prospects ask.
  • Ask them to mine their email and presentations to determine worthwhile topics.
  • Ask them if they run into dead-ends when trying to source content for specific customer challenges.

28. Customer service people

Here again, we’re looking at the people in your company with customer-facing roles. Those manning the chats, taking support calls, conducting training, solving technical problems, or providing any type of post-sale service should be intimately familiar with topics that need tending to.

29. Staff

Sure, the sales and support people should be your first couple of stops, but if everyone in the company is pulling their weight, everyone in the company could contribute to the content ideation party.

Hit up your people for ideas. What are they seeing streaming across social media? What do they hear? A content ideation pizza party or happy hour might be fruitful and fun.

30. Help section

If your company’s site has a help or support section on its site, dig into it. Wander your way into your competitor’s help sections too. What topics could use more informed answers? What ideas could be expanded?

Help section

You might find help requests where the only response was a written answer or customer comments. Would a video, diagram, screenshot or downloadable asset make for a better response? Maybe the reverse is the case: a video provides help, but a blog post or guide does not.

31. Onsite search

onsite search

Does your website and/or blog have a search mechanism? The data it captures is bound to tell you exactly what people are looking for, which is exactly what you need to create content about.

32. Interviews

Interviews are everywhere in every media. And pertinent questions, insights, and ideas pour forth from the mouths of both the interviewers and interviewees. You can read interviews, watch and listen to them, or conduct them and you’re bound to discover content marketing ideas.

33. Your friends and family

It’s possible this final idea of mine has never occurred to you. Conduct conversations with your friends and family about what you do. They’re very likely to respond with questions you can use.

They may bring you that “outsider” perspective you never could have, but should have discovered, otherwise.

Sometimes it just makes for a great story. I remember once, I read something that expressed the idea that the best content marketers are the essentially great teachers. I decided to do a post about the qualities of a great teacher.

So I asked my kids over dinner: Who are your best teachers? Why do you like them best? Their answers were pure, unadulterated, gold. I began taking furious notes and created a wonderful post soon after.

Useful content marketing ideas are everywhere

Want to turn searchers into visitors? Visitors into leads? Leads into customers?

Tune into some new sources, heed what you hear, and turn out some inspired stuff that’ll be helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr

What’s the Difference Between a Landing Page and Homepage? (Featuring 11 Conversion Tips for Landing Pages)

landing page difference

“Landing page” and “homepage” don’t mean the same thing.

Though many visitors to your website are bound to first land on your homepage, in the marketer’s lexicon, the two terms are not synonymous. They have different objectives.

I’ll begin with a fundamental idea that sets them apart.

  • The primary objective of a homepage is to inspire the visitor to go to another page—a page that satisfies their informational needs.
  • The primary objective of the landing page is to be the page that satisfies their informational needs.

It helps to think of a landing page as a “response page.” While a homepage can be deemed successful in a number of ways, and perhaps, also, in varying degrees, the landing page gets a simple pass or fail grade. It passes by achieving a conversion and fails otherwise.

But not so fast. Unbounce, a leading authority on landing pages, claims landing pages come in two varieties:

  1. Click-through landing pages aim to get visitors to click through to another page. This type of page is commonly used in ecommerce models because visitors are unlikely to buy when first landing on a checkout page. The page is likely to offer product details in hopes that it will inspire the visitor to click and buy.
  2. Lead generation landing pages are used to capture leads via a form. They typically describe an offer and call for visitors to submit an email address, and possibly more data, to complete a non-financial transaction. Note that the term “squeeze page” is also used to describe this type of page.

landing page is usually linked (or the destination of) a traffic-building device of some sort from an outside source. Pay-per-click ads, social posts and ads, or emails are common examples.

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Feb

12 Word Power Pointers for the Marketing Content Writer

 

Word Power (1)

If it’s “word power” you’re hoping to achieve, 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing, by the late Gary Provost, is the ultimate manual. It’s the best writing guide I’ve ever read.

If you read my stuff, you know the subject is near and dear to me. If I can give you pointers to improve your writing, you know I will. It’s my job to improve your word power. I can do if for you, with you, or consult you on it.

Provost’s book, published in 1985, includes a chapter titled. “12 Ways to Give your Words Power.” Who doesn’t want that? Here they are:

  1. Use short words
  2. Use dense words
  3. Use familiar words
  4. Use active verbs
  5. Use strong verbs
  6. Use specific nouns
  7. Use the active voice
  8. Say things in a positive way
  9. Be specific
  10. Use statistics
  11. Provide facts
  12. Put emphatic words at the end
    Word Power list

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Feb

How to Edit Copy [Content Matters Episode 22]

Content Matters Ep 22

A ton of content creators make one, or two, big mistakes when they write copy:

  1. They publish first drafts
  2. They edit as they write

In this edition of Content Matters, Andy and Barry make a case why these two mistakes compromise the quality of your content and slow your production.

Listen to “How to Edit Copy [22]” on Spreaker.

In this (highly stereophonic) episode we cover:

  • When’s the right time in the writing process to edit?
  • Why the first paragraph is often disposable
  • How to edit online copy to appeal to scanners
  • The value of “incubation”
  • A long list of things to axe
  • Our copywriting pet peeves
  • How to inject energy into your copy
  • Why you should “cut that out”

In the cheese & mousetrap segment:

  • Barry explains why to not write like a journalist
  • Andy makes a case for writing your call to action in first person

Resources mentioned in this epsidode:

On the next episode of Content Matters:
The power of collaborative content

Listen to any or all of the Content Matters podcast episodes and share your thoughts about the program on iTunes. 

Jan

Website Navigation Matters [Content Matters Episode 21]

Content Matters 21

Could something as basic as your website’s menu bar actually have a meaningful effect on your visitor’s experience? .

Listen to this edition of Content Matters as Andy and Barry discuss how website navigation can effect traffic, conversion and user experience.

Listen to “Website Navigation Matters [21]” on Spreaker.

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Jan

Lead Magnet Ideas, Titles and Templates to Capture More Leads

 

Lead magnet ideas titles and templates

I’ve been bringing you lessons about lead magnets because they’re critical for growing your email list.

I’m not done yet. I’m going to bring it in this one by offering a litany of ideas for lead magnets with titles and templates you can easily adapt to capture more leads from your website.

A quick review, if you missed the prior posts (and offers)…

I’m putting all this effort into helping you create and promote lead magnets because I feel so strong about the need to grow your email list and put the power of email marketing to work. Let’s face it: social media’s a bit slippery to rely on for lead generation and ranking on search is damn difficult for most—especially if you’re an early stage content creator.

Should either search, social, advertising, or any channel succeed in driving traffic to your site, you still lose the battle when visitors come and go without joining your list, getting in touch, trying or buying your product.

The bottom line is you need to give your visitors a reason to give you the keys to their inbox.

And that reason is…? Ultra-strength content… the keeper kind.

You need to offer content that beams from the screen the magic power it takes to get people to type their email address.

This is an exercise to help you crank out killer lead magnets

Our lead magnet creation class shall now commence. I’m glad you’re here. You’ll want to take notes, brainstorm with me, and definitely download the free Lead Magnets Template Kit.

The goal is to inspire powerful lead magnet ideas—featuring compelling titles and attractive covers—that go from being mine to being yours, in a short span of time.

The session will feature:

  • Lead magnet titles that have converted at a high rate for my company and clients.
  • Additional great lead magnet ideas from around the web.
  • Variations on the ideas to help kick start your next lead magnet.
  • And little in-article workshops or brainstorms to ignite the creative process.

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Dec

32 Ways a Digital Marketing Consultant Can Help Grow Your Business

A lot of clients—marketing professionals and business owners—get in touch and ask me to help plan, write, and create websites, eBooks, and blog posts. That’s far from a complete list, but three common requests.

On the other hand, a lot of clients reach out to me without a specific task list in mind. They know they want to grow their business. They know they want to produce traffic, leads and sales. And they think they need the help of digital marketing consultant.

They’re right, but their question is often oh-so-broad: “How can you help me?”

Shwew. My answer could be any number of things and at that point, not having the benefit of knowing where their digital marketing currently stands, I’m seldom able to quickly deliver a perfect answer.

I certainly don’t want to blurt out a specific digital marketing tactic… “YouTube is the answer” or “An email campaign will make rain for you.” That’d be reckless.

A digital marketing consultant should recommend tactics based on needs identified from a carefully considered audit. I’m a strategist. I’m a copywriter. But I’ve been doing digital marketing since it existed, so there are a substantial number of ways I can help you grow your business through digital marketing.

Here they are.

The list won’t magically nail an effective strategy, but my hope is it’ll provide some answers to the “How can you help me?” question and give us lots to talk about.

 

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Nov

Copywriter vs. Content Writer: Skills, Writing Fees and Expectations

copywriter-vs-content-writer-1

Need content? You could enlist the services of a content writer. It probably won’t hurt a bit. But it probably won’t help either.

Given the immense demand for content, millions of freelancers, small agencies and writer brokerages have crawled out of the woodwork to offer cheap, quick-turn content writing services.

The writing they deliver seldom accomplishes much as measured by marketing objectives, but no one’s guilty of anything. The client placed an order for content. The vendor delivered it. End of story?

Yes, usually that’s the story in its entirety. However, it’s just the beginning of this one. You see, I wrote this article to answer questions I often get when asked to quote writing fees by prospects and new clients for creating content.

To simplify, it usually amounts to: copywriter vs. content writer—what’s the difference? However, it may not be quite that simple. A number of posts have been written as attempts to tackle the question. Usually, they say something like:

  • A copywriter writes ads or marketing material to sell products and services or raise brand awareness.
  • A content writer writes educational content without promotional messages.

I’m not close to satisfied with this overly polarized answer. You might have some noble goals in mind for your content marketing, but it’s not a public service. You do it for the reasons listed above in the copywriter definition. Those reasons are marketing objectives and to accomplish them you need a copywriter—and more—someone with marketing skills.

What an average web content writer does

An average content writer for the web writes content, usually blog posts. As you might expect, the writing’s usually average.

Average content writing fees: < $100.

Average research: 10 – 20 minutes.

Average marketing experience: Minimal.

Average results: Words on a page. Zero links. Zero traffic generation. Zero conversion. Zero sales. (Read more about how most content badly underperforms in research published by Buzzsumo and Moz.)

You can probably guess the number of reasons I can think of to hire an average content writer.

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Oct

Digital Marketing Failure: Why the Glass is Half Empty

digital marketing failure

Creating content is a huge part of your digital marketing, yet most of it’s a waste of time.

Ouch. Why?

Did you catch the “Content, Shares and Links” study from Buzzsumo and Moz? It examined 1-million blog posts. Two alarming findings include:

  • Over 50% of posts earned 2 or less Facebook interactions
  • Over 75% achieved zero external links

The report’s author, Steve Rayson, writes, “The majority of content published on the Internet is simply ignored when it comes to shares and links. The data suggests most content is simply not worthy of sharing or linking, and also that people are very poor at amplifying content. It may sound harsh but it seems most people are wasting their time either producing poor content or failing to amplify it.”

Once more for emphasis: most people are wasting their time.

That is harsh—and definitely worth trouble-shooting. It seems safe to say the factors behind unsuccessful digital marketing campaigns can be vast. In this post, I’m going to explore the reasons that stand out to me, especially on the content marketing frontier where so much time is invested. (more…)

Aug

The Business Blogging Plan: 50 Best Practices

50 best practices

I must admit: I’m a latecomer to business blogging. I joined the party in 2011 and got off to a rocky start. Nearly all bloggers do.

Five years later, I know what works. I’m working the strategies to great effect—on my website, for a long list of top marketing blogs, and for many clients. And regardless of where you are in your business blogging journey, I believe this collection of ideas will help you publish an even more effective business blog.

Here, now, are my top ideas organized as 50 best practices. But first…

I present a quick history of business blogging from the historical point of view of yours truly. And then… Grabba’ cuppa’ something tasty and enjoy The Business Blogging Plan.

a brief history of business blogging

Here you go… 
The Business Blogging Plan:  50 Best Practices

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