Write a Website, Not a Novel

Stack of keyboards

Write less. Write better.

Never use ten words, when you can say it in five. Never use a ten-buck word, when a five-buck word will do.

These are old phrases that I remember from my days working as a journalist. The idea was not to dazzle people with your thesaurus, but to communicate and report your story. Save the flowery language, they used to say, for your novel.

If you’re developing your content strategy for your new brand website, be sure to include a section in the style guide about writing. Let your whole team know that the purpose of your website is to serve the needs of your users. It’s not an opportunity to stretch your legs as a writer and express yourself with brilliant prose. Continue reading

Mobile Video, NetFlix, and Mass Transit

Apple iPad

Apple iPad

As I was riding the bus to work this week, I observed at least two people streaming Netflix to iPads.

The lower-end iPads include WiFi, but the upgraded models offer 3G wireless service. That makes it easy to stream Netflix wherever you are. Like, for instance, the bus.

This may seem like a minor point, but for content creators and content strategists, it is a significant development worth considering. For example, as you develop your content strategy, you’re probably thinking primarily about the website and mobile experience. This means a robust website that scales appropriately for mobile users.

If you create transmedia assets, you may also be thinking about familiar channels like YouTube and Vimeo for video. Maybe Slideshare for presentations. Perhaps an eBook on Amazonor at BarnesandNoble.com. Again, this all makes sense.

Have you considered the bus? I mean, you know that mobile users are accessing your website on mobile device, and they may be on a bus. But when you think about long-form streaming video, you probably aren’t thinking about an iPad 2 streaming video on a bus. Continue reading

Use WordPress to Design a Website

WordPress Logo

WordPress logo

I’ve been developing content and building websites for a long, long time now. In the beginning, we did almost always from scratch. Occasionally, I used a template, but often it was just sitting at the keyboard grinding out a design and some code.

The past three or four sites, however, have all been developed on WordPress. Instead of worrying about HTML, CSS, Javascript, or divs, I get to focus on the content.

Initially, I only used WordPress as a blogging platform with the main body as the new content area. It was the standard blog structure where the newest post appeared on top, pushing the older posts down.

But now I’ve started to discover new ways to control WordPress to make it look like a regular website. So instead of posting a standard blog post, I am building a nice homepage with functional interior pages. In most cases, it still looks like a blog platform, which is fine by me. In most of these newer sites, I’m looking for a homegrown feel that highlights the content, not the snazzy design. Continue reading

Use a Facebook Fan Page for Book Marketing

Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Fan Page for Comic Book School

About a year or so ago, I started to experiment with a Facebook Fan Page. It was an based in a desire to “meet” the people who were buying my books.

It was a little slow getting started, since it took some time for me to really understand how Fan Pages actually worked. As an author of very niche books, I am really excited about the passion and energy that people bring to the Fan Page.

Now that I have been running this Facebook Fan Page for a while, I thought I might share a few observations: Continue reading

Paid Content And Your Content Strategy

A few years back, I wrote a post titled Top 5 Things I’ll Pay for on the Web. (Still brilliant, I know.)

By this point, I would have expected that the pay model for content would have changed, but for the most part, it has not. The web remains mostly free and will probably remain that way for quite some time.

There has been, however, an interesting shift in the tablet world. First the Kindle and then the iPad have nudged people along to pay for content. It’s not a mass movement, but it is a step in the direction where content creators can eventually charge something for their content. As such, content strategy will need to evolve to reflect this slow evolution back toward paid content.

Back when I got my first Kindle, there was a small, but growing library of ebooks. Many were free, some were as inexpensive as 99 cents, and others were around $9.99. It wasn’t a bad price for content, especially for those 99 cent books. Downloading and payment was easy, so the barrier to purchasing new content was low. Continue reading

Content Strategy Tip – Write Awful Content

Here’s a novel content strategy for you. Make some awful content. And when you’re done with that, make some more bad content.

How is that “content strategy,” you ask? Good question.

This year I published a book called “Creating Comics from Start to Finish.” It’s a book for people who aspire to create comic books. I included a section for writers where I offered the concept of the “Rule of 10.”

I won’t go into the whole thing (buy the book), but the Rule of 10 is all about practice. Specifically, if you are a writer, you need to create 10 stories before you even dare to pitch your stuff to an editor. By writing these 10 stories, you will write through your clichés and stiff storytelling. You will write through your amateurish experimentation, which nobody should have to pay for. Continue reading

eBooks Compared to Cost of Print Publishing

Nook Color ereader

Nook Color ebook ereader now supports Android Apps

As the print industry continues on an inexorable path to extinction, an analysis by the Wall Street Journal reinforces what many of us already knew. Specifically, ebooks are just less expensive to publish.

First off, I’m not a book hater. Actually, quite the opposite. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with print. I spent many years in print publishing. Now that I’ve started writing books, I’m hoping that print sticks around just a bit longer.

Unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen.

The Internet has has led to fewer people buying and reading books. That much we know.

Yet it took the combined impact of the Amazon Kindle, the Nook, and the iPad to make ebooks truly viable. These are devices that offer the features ebook readers want at the right price. Continue reading

3 Easy Email Marketing Tips to Improve ROI

Few things in the modern world are as ubiquitous as email. In a few short years, the medium of email went from being a small part of the online experience to a centerpiece of our professional and personal lives. And yet, oddly enough, many marketers are unsure of how to properly utilize email as part of their branding campaign.

Here are three tips for getting the most out of your email marketing efforts. (Why only three? Well, for starters, email marketing is a massive topic that is far too important to tackle in just one blog post. So let’s just start with three and see how that goes.)

1. Understand How Images Load
These days, many of your target customers have the ability to receive HTML email, which means that you can include snazzy images. But many email programs do not show images when the email is opened. That means your splashy email may not display as intended until the user clicks “load images.” Be sure to design your emails, so that key messages display on the preview mode.

This video by my friend and technical advisor Chris Cullmann details how to optimize the images in the body of an HTML email. Note how certain techniques that work well on a website (white navigational text on a black background), just doesn’t work on HTML emails. Listen to Chris. He’s smart. Continue reading

DTC National 2011 – Optimizing Websites Panel

DTC National 2011 in Boston“Content is king” — that was essentially the unwritten theme of my panel at the Direct to Consumer National 2011 conference.

And, I am proud to report, that none of the panelists actually uttered the phrase “content is king.” (We’re too cool for that.)

Last week, I spent a half day at the DTC National Conference 2011 in Boston to participate in one of the pre-conference workshops. We were arranged panel style in the front of the room to talk about pharmaceutical marketing related topics.

I was on the panel “Optimizing the Brand Web Site” with some impressive panelists:

While the conversation was focused on pharma brand websites, it was a conversation that could have easily been about any industry. Basically, if I had to summarize it in a few words, it went like this. Continue reading

Amazon’s Freemium Music Cloud

Amazon Cloud Player Locker UploaderIf nothing else, we now know for sure that server space and bandwidth has gotten cheap. So cheap, in fact, that they can’t give it away fast enough.

Amazon just announced their new music digital locker service, appropriately named Amazon Cloud Drive. If you already use Amazon, you get 5Gb of free storage space. And it’s not just storage space, you can actually upload your own personal music files and stream music to your device or desktop.

Are there other places where you can upload files for free? Sure, Dropbox.com and Google Docs have offered this kind of solution for a while. Services like these allow you ample space to FTP files to yourself or other people. It prettymuch eliminates the need for USB keys, which always seem to get lost or stolen.

Amazon goes one step further by adding a terrific music player and upload app that works on Mac and PC. If you don’t have it already, Amazon automatically downloads and installs Adobe Air, which is free and is useful for apps like TweetDeck. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy and fun, even for people who are fairly low tech.

Continue reading