5 Great Ways to Turn Your Blog Posts into a Book

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard, and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.” — Neil Gaiman

Writing a book is a dream for many folks. Some try very hard to write a book from scratch but never get very far. Others take baby steps. Little by little, they manage to put something meaningful together. Nevertheless, they fall short of writing that elusive full-length tome.

Some writers have success by beginning their writing journey with a blog. Often, starting a new blog feels more like a hobby than a formal writing project. Over time, this “hobby” gains enough traction to earn the writer a regular following.

If they have been successfully blogging for awhile, they will have accumulated a significant amount of content. It could make sense for a recognized blogger to transform their blog posts into a full-length book.

This article will explore how blog posts can be compiled into a book. It will cover five ways it can be done, including how hiring a ghostwriter can help with such a major writing project.

Getting Started: Outlining a Non-fiction Book

Outlining is the first major step in getting started producing a full-length book. Starting with a fully developed outline can help with the writing process and organization of the book.

There are two major reasons why an outline is important.

First, an outline serves as a roadmap for the book’s content.

Many writers get stuck without the guidance of a clear outline. In some instances, they may write copious amounts of material. However, they are unable to translate the material into a seamless narrative.

Books without a consistent narrative are likely to fall short of readers’ expections.

Second, a solid outline allows writers to pick and choose which blog posts fit their vision for the book.

The outline provides criteria that can measure whether a blog post should be included in the final book. Without these criteria, mashing blog posts together can result in a disjointed final product that fails to convey the intended message.

When outlining a book, it is crucial to determine the book’s message.The blog posts must fit the message and not the other way around. A common mistake is to attempt to force a narrative around a collection of blog posts. Blog posts often touch on different subjects and have different approaches to them. Using a central message around which to select posts is more effective than trying to develop criteria from various posts.

The following steps will facilitate the overall process:

  1. Create an outline or table of content that reflects the book’s content.
  2. Search for the blog posts that fit the criteria presented in the outline.
  3. Compile the blog posts to create a working manuscript.
  4. Edit existing posts while adding new material to ensure a smooth narrative.

Please bear in mind that this process is not about merely shoving posts together into a volume. It is about weaving them together much like a quilt. A great outline can also become a highly useful tool when a ghostwriter comes into the picture.

Number One: “Blogging” a Full-Length Book

A common complaint among writers is that they do not have enough time to sit down and write a book. However, most bloggers already commit a specific amount of time to their blog. They have time to write, but don’t feel they have time to compile an entire book.

Consistent bloggers can leverage their writing habits into a full-length volume. The secret is to break up the entire book into blog-sized chunks.

By dividing the workload this way, producing the overall content is less demanding on the writer’s time.

Additionally, divvying up the material softens the psychological impact that writing a book can present. Focusing on 500-to-1,000-word blog posts at a time builds momentum, which can push the project forward.

A full-length book usually falls in the 30,000 to 50,000-word range. By “blogging” a book piece-by-piece, reaching this significant word count is accomplished in a steady and systematic way.

Use the following steps to “blog” a full-length book:

  1. Build an outline that reflects the book’s overarching message and theme.
  2. Divide the material into blog-sized posts (500 to 1,000 words).
  3. Publish “chapters” on your blog following a specific schedule.
  4. Keep roughly 25% of the chapters exclusively for the finished book.
  5. Compile the set of blog posts into a working manuscript.
  6. Review the material to ensure a consistent narrative.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid publishing everything on the blog. After all, why would readers be interested in the book if everything is on the blog? Moreover, the book will not sell if the content is freely available on the blog.  Creating a certain amount of material exclusively for the book will keep it useful and interesting.

Number Two: “Blogging” Short Books

Some writers prefer to break up a single, full-length book into a series of smaller books. This approach allows writers to publish more books at frequent intervals. More frequent publishing also cuts down on readers’ waiting time.

Like a full-length book, blogging short books begins with publishing blog posts. Each blog post pertains to the overall topic related to each of the volumes in the series. Short books can emerge from a a handful of posts or even one lengthy piece.

Typically, short books range from 5,000 to about 20,000 words. These types of books are common on Kindle or in e-book format.

Short books intend to provide the reader with detailed information on one or two defined topics. For instance, a writer may chose to produce a series on best management practices instead of a single, comprehensive volume.

When blogging short books, writers can use individual blog posts as teasers for the books’ content. As such, published posts can become the introduction to the book. With this approach, writers do not give anything away. Instead, they can create a buzz in readers, enticing them to read the entire book.

Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Create an outline that encompasses the series’ narrative.
  2. Break up the narrative into a reasonable number of volumes. Generally, three to five volumes work well.
  3. Write one major blog post that introduces the volume’s central message without giving away its essence.
  4. The blog post should avoid becoming too “salesy” but should strive to pitch the book.

Regular bloggers often exploit this approach to generate traffic for their content or drive sales. It can even lead to a steady income stream.

Number Three: Blogging Short Series

Another popular approach among bloggers is to produce a short series. These series usually have a specific theme to them. For example, a blogger may choose to chronicle a trip or detail a project. Creative bloggers often use this format to unfold a story over several “chapters.”

A short series offers a great deal of flexibility as they can generate expectations for every new installment.

How-to guides commonly follow this approach. Each installment in the series builds on the previous one. By the end of the series, readers have a completed project. In contrast, if they miss a chapter, they will not be able to fully reach the outcome.

A short series can also lead to a full-length book. Each installment could serve as a chapter that builds anticipation.

Additionally, short series help readers construct the overarching theme piece-by-piece. This approach allows readers to get valuable information in digestible chunks. As a result, it avoids placing too much information on readers in one volume.

When using the short series approach, writers should consider purposely leaving important details out. These details would only be available in the full book. In doing so, readers would need to purchase the full book to get the remaining pieces of the overall puzzle.

Non-fiction writers can benefit from this format. For instance, blog posts can introduce the main aspects of a case study. Each installment could present individual stories that build on the overarching message contained in the book. However, the blog would not include the book’s value proposition.

Consider this example:

A book on management practices presents a series of case studies on successful companies. Each blog post tells the story of a company turning their management practices around. However, the blog posts do not reveal how each company achieved its results. Readers would need to read through the book to find the specific measures that led to the successful outcomes.

Another benefit from blogging a short series is the possibility of a book series. Often, short stories have the potential to expand into larger books or expanded narratives. Both fiction and non-fiction writers could consider using short stories as a springboard into a book series.

Number Four: Publish an Anthology

An anthology is a collection of writings. Often, publishers bundle poems or short stories into anthology volumes. These collections may or may not have a specific theme to them. Their intention is to provide the reader with a compilation of a writer’s work. Also, an anthology may feature various authors’ work on a specific topic.

For some bloggers, an anthology may be a viable alternative to producing a full-length or short book.

Writers can benefit from producing an anthology as they do not need to “fit” every element perfectly. They can compile various ideas into a bundle that is consistent with an overarching theme. Nonetheless, each element should help build the narrative effectively.

Anthologies also offer more freedom to explore topics. This freedom allows writers to include material that does not necessarily fit in perfectly with the other blog posts in the series.

As a result, writers can allow themselves to the freedom to divert from the topic at hand. Of course, it is crucial to maintain focus on the overarching theme.

Please consider the following steps when building an anthology:

  1. Anthologies need a common thread that unites every piece. For example, a book could contain several pieces on a specific topic, such as social justice.
  2. Individual blog posts do not necessarily need to follow a seamless narrative. However, they must have a clear relationship with one another. Disjointed or unrelated blog posts can leave readers confused and the writer’s main message may not be clearly expressed.
  3. An anthology must have an introduction that helps weave each post into a common theme. The introduction should make it clear  what the reader can expect to find throughout the book.
  4. A conclusion is another important component of a great anthology. The conclusion helps bring the book full circle in a way that leaves readers with something to look forward to. A conclusion can also serve to “hook” readers into anticipating the next short or full-length book.

Bear in mind that anthologies should also contain unpublished material. These “bonuses” help drive interest in the anthology. Otherwise, readers need only go to the blog to get the material. Fans of a blog may be interested in an anthology because the collection gives readers deeper insight into the blogger as an individual.

Number Five: Hiring a Ghostwriter

Unfortunately, there are times when writing projects stall.

When this occurs, it is often a good idea to bring a fresh mind into the fold. Hiring a ghostwriter can be one solution.

A professional ghostwriter can take a series of blog posts and mold them into an anthology, a series, or a full-length book. A ghostwriter can take the overarching narrative and fill in the gaps needed to complete the project.

There are two main benefits of hiring a ghostwriter:

First, professional ghostwriters can take existing blog posts and tweak them to fit the book’s criteria. This approach does not require any material to be rewritten. A ghostwriter can produce new material and link existing blog posts together to build a seamless narrative. With their help, a ghostwriter can greatly reduce the time needed to get the book out to the public.

Second, hiring a ghostwriter allows bloggers to start new blogs or writing projects.  Ghostwriters can also take ideas from the blogger and help create new blog posts or even short stories.

This approach is not about hiring a ghostwriter to write a book. Instead, the ghostwriter’s job is to compile existing content and bring the book writing project to fruition.

Ultimately, getting a ghostwriter on board might be the final piece of the puzzle. A professional ghostwriter is always a worthwhile alternative when other approaches cannot seem to bear fruit.

Bringing It All Together

Going from a blog to a full book is a great way to take a seemingly daunting task and attain a long-held dream. Writers who feel they do not have the time to produce a full-length book should think again. After all, producing consistent blog posts will eventually lead to a significant amount of written material.

Building a book from blog posts hinges on choosing a narrative that can bind the various elements together. Consequently, writers must craft a narrative that unites several posts.

Carefully choosing the posts that fit the narrative, and leaving out those that do not, will result in a strategically crafted book.

Lastly, hiring a professional ghostwriter might be the answer to reviving a dormant writing project. Whether it is taking existing blog posts or building new ones, a ghostwriter can help take a writing project from an idea into reality

What is a Blog?

A blog, short for “weblog,” is a text-based online diary or website product used for informational or entertainment purposes.

A blog can be written by a single writer, or a group of writers. And the information contained in this platform varies according to the topic or theme.

Generally speaking, a blog shares the viewpoint and opinions of its writers. However, blogs can also be written in a non-biased manner, depending on the desired goal.

Individuals can use blogs for personal reasons, such as sharing personal events. Businesses can use blogs for commercial purposes, such as informing clients about their products and services. Ultimately, the overall purpose of a blog is to connect the writer with a target audience by way of relevant content.

Structure of a Blog

In general, blogs have the following structure:

  • Main title
  • Table of contents and/or navigation bar
  • Main content section with subheadings
  • A sidebar with links to social media, e-commerce sites, or a call to action
  • A footer with relevant disclaimers and contact information

Writers can alter blogs to suit their needs. That’s why formatting a blog often takes practice and experience.

Why Are Blogs Popular?

Blogs are popular for the following reasons:

  • They provide accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Companies use them to keep their clients and suppliers informed.
  • Visitors can interact with individuals and companies through comments and messages.
  • Bloggers can earn money by doing activities such as affiliate marketing.
  • They generate traffic for websites and e-commerce portals.

Who is a Blogger?

A blogger is essentially anyone who writes a blog. This includes individuals, companies, and organizations that share information and points of view through this type of format. Bloggers are informers or storytellers that have something to say to the world.

With the tools available nowadays, virtually anyone can become a blogger. But the success of a blog depends on the right message reaching the right audience.

How to Write a Blog Post That People Will Want to Read

Have you ever passed a house that had a really cool front door? It could have been some cool glasswork or just a color that popped. It immediately gives the whole house a more interesting vibe, and it makes you want to see what’s inside.

Your blog is the front door to your website.

Don’t settle for basic brown or white. Give it some thought. Let it add some flair to your site. If you want your website to have that “curb appeal,” you want to make your blog stand out and say, “Come on in. There’s cool stuff here!”

Blogs can be fun or informative, or even profoundly personal. Some draw you in and keep you reading to the very end, while others you barely notice or, even worse, make you bounce out from boredom or disgust. 

Whether you are writing blogs for other people or creating your own, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your readers will actually want to finish reading your blog post. Here’s what you need to know.

Define Your Audience

Who do you want to read this blog? Once you know that, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does my reader care about?
  • What are they looking for that brought them to my blog?
  • What emotions are in play?

Understanding your audience is crucial to creating a blog that will give them what they need and keep them coming back for more.

Think about everything, including age, gender, and even financial status. As you put your blog together, consider any factors that may affect how and why someone is on your site and reading your blog.

Choose a Topic Carefully

The topic of your blog is paramount. This goes for the overall concept as well as each blog entry.

Whenever possible, choose a topic you care about so that your passion comes through in your post.

If you’re writing for someone else, though, it may not always be something you care deeply about. However, once you try to understand the audience and why they care about the topic, you’ll find that it usually becomes interesting pretty quickly.

Now, before you can settle on a great topic, you need to clarify what you want to accomplish with your blog. It’s kind of like picking your destination before you choose a car to get you there.

What is your ultimate goal for the blog post? Do you want to entertain, inform, or sell? Knowing your blog’s goal can help you find a topic that will help check all of the boxes.

But no matter what your goal, it’s important to remember that readers want to be informed, and they need to be entertained. That doesn’t mean that it has to be amazingly witty or dramatic but keep it interesting enough to retain their attention.

Find Your Angle

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When you find your topic, you may think, “It’s already been done!” You’re probably right. The internet is vast, and most subjects have been touched on, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have something original to contribute.

Twenty people can all write about the same topic, and all 20 can be interesting if they each take a unique angle. Consider this example:

(Topic) 

The Amazing Honeybee 

(Potential Angles)

  • The Intricate Social Structure in a Beehive (They can “create” a new queen if the old one dies!)
  • How Bees Pollinate the World
  • Bee Keeping in Ancient Egypt (This was a real thing!)
  • How One Kid is Trying to Save the Honeybees
  • 10 Ways You Can Help Honeybees in Your Backyard

By finding an angle that is new, interesting, and relevant to your audience, you’re creating something that is unique – and adds value to your blog and your website.

Create a Structure

Good blogs have structure. And the best way to get that structure is by starting with an outline. Some people may not be big fans of this step, but doing an outline first is crucial.

An outline helps you plan out your blog post so that you know where everything goes and how much space each section gets. Once you have an outline in place, it can help you spot gaps where you may be missing information. It can also help make the writing part easier!

So, do yourself a favor and outline. 

When it comes to the content, it’s important to note that people read on the internet much differently than they do when they pick up a novel.

Readers want articles to be broken down into sections that they can easily digest. And to help them identify what they are going to be reading about, each section should be divided by a header that tells the content of the section. 

Your audience also wants content that flows logically, transitioning from one section to the next while using short paragraphs, bullet points, quotes — anything to make it easier for them to consume information quickly.

Craft a Great Opening

The internet is full of content. To keep your readers on your page, you must hook them right away.

Your opening identifies your style and tone. It tells the reader what you’ll be talking about and why they need to read it.

If your opening doesn’t evoke curiosity, amusement, or some other emotion within the first couple of seconds, your reader will click away and find someone else’s blog to read. 

Let Your Voice Shine

Don’t be dull. Blogs aren’t the place for stuffy, academic writing.

Even if you’re tackling a technical topic, handle it like you are talking to a friend. Use the first person to convey your own experience or use the second person to speak directly to the reader. Avoid using the third person as it distances the reader from the blog.

Your readers want to feel like they’re getting to know you. So, let them in!

If you’re worried that you’re going a little overboard with your voice and it’s bordering on obnoxious, stick with it for a bit. Your blog is fighting for attention on a crowded internet. That bold voice of yours may be just what you need to cut through the noise.

If, after a few tries, you see too big of a bounce rate, it may be time to dial it back. Go big first. Besides, you can have a lot of fun writing that way.

Do Your Research Right

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Unless your topic is a first-person narrative of something from your own life, you’ll probably need to do some research.

Don’t fake it. Do your due diligence and get it right. If you get things wrong, you will get called out. That’s pretty much guaranteed. But for every reader who has the guts to point out your error, dozens more will say nothing and just click away from your page.

The worst part is that you’ll lose credibility with those readers, and you may not get a second chance. 

Speak to Emotion

Regardless of what you are writing about, find a way to connect your topic to emotion.

What if you are writing about a technical topic? Then it’s even more important. People are driven by emotion.

A good example of this can be seen in effective advertising campaigns. Take Michelin, for example.

In 1986, Michelin ran an ad for car tires that didn’t tell us about the tread, or the special rubber used. The ad never even showed us a car. It just had a baby resting inside of a tire and a dad talking about tires: “Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires.”

Or even better:

The Dawn dish soap ad that shows people using their product to clean baby ducks at an oil spill. Think about how those images affect the viewer. Is Dawn…powerful? Check. Environmentally conscious? Check. Aww…baby ducks! Check. 

The same is true for your blog post. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about, if you speak to emotion, you’ll take your blog from good to amazing. 

Finish It Strong

Have you ever been to a live concert and heard a band completely nail a song only to flub the ending? No matter what came before, that ending ruined it. It’s what you’ll remember.

Find a good way to end your blog post that ties the information together and hammers your point home. One great way to do this is to find a way to tie it back to your intro. 

Edit!

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Most writers don’t really enjoy editing, but it separates the good ones from the rest. If you’re not great at editing, make use of the grammar tools available to you like Grammarly or the Hemingway Editor. Or, even better, find someone who can help you out.

Typos and goofs all through your blog will guarantee that you lose credibility, and people will stop reading it. It looks sloppy and unprofessional. 

Come Up With a Compelling Headline

Wait. What? Why is the headline so far down this list? Because your best bet at writing a compelling headline that captures your blog post perfectly is to do it after you’ve written the post.

Don’t fall in love with a headline and try to shoehorn your blog post to fit it. That’s backwards, and while it may lead to a lot of clicks, people will be disappointed when they get there. 

You don’t always know where a blog post is going to go as you write it, even if you outlined it in detail.

Writing is an organic process, and every project tends to morph a little bit as you go. And, sometimes, those changes are the best part. Once you’re done, you’ll have a lot of good ideas for headlines. Write them all out and then choose the one you like the best.

Add Great Images

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Take the time to add a couple of strong, emotion-evoking images. They help to break up the text and leave a memorable mental picture for the reader.

Be sure to use high-quality images that will look great and fit the size you need on your screen. Hazy, pixelated images will give your blog the same appearance as a bunch of typos. It looks unprofessional. 

If you have the eye and the equipment to take your own photos, that’s fantastic. But not everyone can pull that off, and that’s okay. There are a number of duty-free image websites where you can source pictures for free or for a small fee. Just be certain to credit where you got them. 

Optimize for SEO

If no one can find your blog, how will they read it? Luckily, today’s search engines put the most value on content that meets reader expectations, so having a great headline and a blog post that follows up on that headline is a great start. 

Here are a few of the other basics you should consider:

  • Do a little research on keywords for your topic and incorporate them into your blog organically.
  • Use subheads and work the keywords in there, too, when you can.
  • Optimize your meta description to describe your blog post accurately.
  • Create a few links to other internal web pages or a few highly reputable external websites.

You don’t have to obsess over SEO to make your post SEO friendly. Focus on writing great, useful content, and you’re most of the way there. Then, add the other elements I mentioned to make it work even better.

Now, Go Forth and Blog!

A great website needs to be constructed thoughtfully. From your landing page to your opt-in or sales pages, you need to look at it from your website visitor’s point of view. Is it easy to navigate? Does it make sense? And most of all, is it interesting?

Your blog can be a tool that helps people find your website and start their exploration. It’s your front door. Make it smart, interesting, and well-written so your visitors will be intrigued enough to come in and stay for a while. Then, when they leave happy, they’ll keep coming back and maybe even tell their friends.  

Partnering with Writers to Create Great Blogs

You spent the last few weeks researching, interviewing, and selecting a professional writer to assist you in drafting the company blog. Now, you’re ready to send them on their way to develop compelling copy that will take your company to the next level. 

But, before you have your new writing team start churning out content, follow these five steps to make the most of this partnership — and its ability to impact your organization’s bottom line.

Step No. 1: Define your communications objectives.

What exactly does your company want to accomplish with its blog? In other words, what do you seek from your audience?

For example, does your new company want to become more visible in the marketplace, or is it an established organization that wants to reinforce its market leadership?

Do you seek to rebuild your reputation after a crisis, or are you working to distinguish your company from a competitor with a similar product or service?

In The Art of Digital Marketing, Ian Dodson emphasizes the importance of defining and setting tangible, measurable goals that can help you create plans and direct your day-to-day tasks.

Sure, a company blog can serve as a valuable tactic to increase customer awareness or as a call to action, yet it must be part of an integrated effort to truly increase market share.

Thoughtfully considering how your blog integrates into your overall marketing strategy will help you determine the type of content to feature and who in your company are the subject-matter experts to involve.           

Once your objectives are defined, a solid writer or team can help you develop the appropriate content.

Step No. 2: Draft — and use — an editorial calendar.

If you’ve watched the popular television program Shark Tank, it’s likely you heard the business-owner “sharks” first ask each entrepreneur presenter this question: “Do you have a business plan?” 

The mega-successful sharks figured out long ago the truth in this question: Proper planning prevents poor performance.    

In Step 1, you defined your objectives. Now, you must determine how frequently you prefer to post and then plan your content.

Do you have sufficient information to post weekly, every other week, monthly, or quarterly? Consistency is key, so endeavor to keep to your schedule.

To stay on top of deadlines and information, some companies use an editorial calendar or timeline. This document typically shows your blog’s posting dates and writing deadlines, topics, proposed headlines, photo sources, and a notes section that includes additional pertinent information about each post.

Of course, you can tailor your timeline to fit your specific needs.

If your company is just launching the blog, you can easily set up an editorial calendar in a simple Excel spreadsheet or Google document that can be shared and updated among those on the project. This typically includes the company representative, writer, editor, and any other pertinent individual. 

Other companies may already be using project management software like Wrike; if so, you may prefer to integrate with that.

Whatever you choose, use a tool that helps you stay on track of deadlines and information, and be sure to update the information regularly. This will provide a framework to effectively target your audience and produce quality blogs in a timely manner.

Digital marketing expert Neil Patel says if you’re rushed to produce content, you won’t produce your best work. Why waste the opportunity — and the money you spend for a writer or team — with poor or non-existent planning?

Step No. 3: Communicate consistently with your writing partner.

All solid relationships are built on strong, consistent communication.  So, how can you ensure strong communication between your company and your blog writers?

First, provide your writer with regular opportunities to learn about your business and get used to your management style. TimeDoctor.com suggests that you:

  • Establish a fixed schedule of meetings to provide information, review progress, and track deadlines. Weekly often works best and, if conducting the meeting through a conference call, consider using the video function. People seek connection — even in their professional lives.
  • Be cognizant of appropriate hours to contact folks. If you’re on the east coast, wait until mid-morning to contact someone in San Francisco or Seattle!

The Writers For Hire (TWFH) copywriter Dana Robinson believes regular communication can improve accountability to deadlines and timely feedback. “I find it extremely helpful to set up a type of communication schedule at the outset of any project.”  

Second, work with the writer to set realistic deadlines: Remember, they have other clients. An overly ambitious timeline with unreasonable deadlines can affect the longevity of the relationship — and your blog’s effectiveness.

Finally, let the writer know when and how you prefer contact – be it email, text, or other means. Then, support the writer by responding to their inquiries in a timely fashion.

Step No. 4: Provide access to your subject-matter experts and source materials.

Once a solid relationship is established, the writer may become a key part of the organization’s communications team — and know exactly whom to turn to for content to be featured in blog posts.

For smaller organizations, information may come from an individual, typically, the owner or manager.

In larger companies, though, it’s rare that all subject matter comes from a single company liaison, so it is essential to provide the writer access to your organization’s experts.

Email an introduction to the appropriate colleague, providing details about the blog topic and a general idea of what the writer needs. And be sure to copy the writer on the email.

A word of caution: Be careful about having too many layers of review and approval for each blog post. While your organization may possess technical experts, they often are not experts at crafting messages to appeal to your audiences.

Typically, one subject-matter expert and the communications liaison are sufficient to ensure the content is accurate and well-targeted.

Additionally, furnish the writing team with any background that may help them compose compelling copy. “Arming the writer with company materials can help them grasp the voice and overall tone your company wishes to convey,” says TWFH copywriter Laura Frnka-Davis, APR.

Remember, you hired the writer for their expertise and ability to convey a message. It’s your job to provide them with the information needed to cater the message to your specific business. As Karen Mazurkewich asserts in the Harvard Business Review, “The freelance journalists and editors we hire serve as sherpas, helping us find interesting narratives in the labyrinth of angles and ideas across our ecosystem.”

Step No. 5: After the writing project, evaluate what went right and what you can improve.


You posted the blog, and the team is ready to begin working on your next topic. Before you move on to the next post, there’s a final piece of the puzzle to place: evaluating your effort. This goes for both the project and your working relationship.

Here are a few questions for you and your writers to consider and discuss:

  • Was the deliverable what you expected?
  • Did your writing team meet their deadlines?
  • Did you provide timely feedback?

Review the notes section of your editorial calendar: Do you see any holes in information gathering or in the materials you provided the writer? Could you streamline any processes, provide additional data or visuals, or otherwise enhance the next effort?

Ideally, your company has a mechanism for gathering data about who opens and reads your blog post. If so, be sure to share this data with the writing team. Let them know whether the piece resonated with audiences and examine what could be done differently.

If your company plans to place resources in a writing team, these tips could help you develop a healthy working relationship — and a larger return on your investment.

Copyright Rules for Blog Writers

Every good blogger knows that photos are an integral part of blog writing. The use of photos and graphic images helps improve your blogs by breaking up the text and giving your readers something interesting to look at.  But how do you find free images to use? And how do you know that those images are truly copyright free?

Well, this blog from PRNewswire is a great place to start. The blog provides three basic rules for ensuring that your blog is not breaking any copyright laws. It explains how you are financially responsible for anything you post on the web and describes what kind of consequences you could face for copyright violations. It also goes into a brief description of the various types of copyright categories you may find when searching for images online.

While the possibility of copyright violations and penalties may sound scary, there are plenty of sites where you can get images that are copyright free—which means that you can use them in your blogs without having to worry about penalties. Sites such as Pixabay and Unsplash offer a vast catalogue of images that are truly free and can be used for any of your blogs. And some sites, such as SplitShire, even have free video archives.

For more information on copyrighted images (and some great sites that have truly free images), check out our blog on the Top Six (Really) FREE Image Sites!

Top Six (Really) FREE Image Sites

With the Internet’s seemingly endless stream of images for any given subject, it’s hard to know which ones are free to use, and which ones are protected by strict copyrights.

Seeing a large watermark on an image is generally a good indication that the image you are looking at is copyrighted.

But what if there is no obvious copyright watermark? And what if you are able to click on the image and save it to your computer? Does that mean that you are legally permitted to use that image for your personal websites or blogs?

The answers to these questions are not always clear, and even when you think you are following the right steps to make sure you are using an image that is not copyrighted, images that seem to be copyright free are sometimes only copyright free in certain situations.

The Sticky Details of Copyright Laws

Unfortunately, image copyright laws can be complicated to navigate. And violating those copyright laws can lead to penalties and expensive lawsuits.

Sure, there is a chance that the image you use will never be discovered. But the reality is that whoever took that picture or created that image deserves to be properly credited and compensated for their work.

That is where copyright licenses, and the laws that protect them, come into play.

There is a huge array of different copyright licenses that control how and when images can be used.

Some licenses are very restrictive, while others allow open and free use of the image.  The trick is figuring out which license your image is covered by, and what that license allows and prohibits.

For example, Flickr images are protected under eight different types of Creative Commons copyright licenses. The particular license used for each individual image is up to the discretion of whoever created or owns the image.

So, when using Flickr images, it is important that you find out which Creative Commons license is applicable to the particular image that you wish to use.

Types of Copyright Licenses

While there are a number of copyright licenses out there, some of the most commonly found licenses are:

  • All Rights Reserved: With this license, the copyright holder reserves all rights provided by copyright law. This includes the right to make copies, distribute the image, and license or otherwise exploit their work; no rights are waived under this license.
  • Royalty Free: A royalty free license allows you to use the image without having to pay any kind of royalty. Royalty free images are generally found on stock-photo sites, where the royalty has been paid already through your membership to the site.
  • Public Domain Work: Images classified under the Public Domain have been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law. This means that the image is free to be used for all purposes, without needing to seek permission or pay a fee.
  • Attribution: If an image is covered by the Attribution license, it may be used for personal or commercial purposes, as long as the user gives proper credit, provides a link to the license, and indicates whether any changes were made to the original image.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike: Like the Attribution license, this license allows free use of the image with proper attribution. It also requires that if you change or build upon the image in any way, you must distribute your contribution under the same license as the original.
  • Attribution-NoDerivs: Again, this license follows the same rules as the Attribution license; however, if you make any changes to the original, you may not distribute the modified image.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial: With the NonCommercial clause to the Attribution license, you may only use the image for personal use. The image may not be used for commercial purposes.

Educating yourself on exactly what these licenses cover, and making sure you know which license pertains to your image, is imperative if you wish to avoid any possible copyright infringements.

Penalties For Copyright Infringements

Making the mistake of using a copyrighted image without permission can hold some pretty hefty consequences.

First of all, it’s never fun to receive a scary looking “Cease and Desist” letter or an “Unauthorized Use Report” email.

Even worse, though, is when those notifices are accompanied by a demand that you pay a license fee or face further legal action.

And if you think you can get away with ignoring the notice and fee demand, think again! Failing to respond to the cease and desist can cost you a fine of anywhere from $200 to $150,000, plus attorney fees and damages.

To top it off, the image owner can take it as far as using the DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to get your entire site shut down.

So, How do you Know if Images are Truly Copyright Free?

The only way to know for sure is to check into the license for the particular image that you want to use.

When using sites such as Flickr or Shutterstock, each individual image should have a licensing agreement that explains whether or not the image can be used, for what purpose it may be used, and whether or not there is a fee associated with its use.

However, if you are simply doing a Google image search, the license information is not always easy to find.

Often, it is nearly impossible to find out who actually owns the license for many of the images.

And although it is possible to set Google parameters to show only copyright free images, there is no guarantee that the images that are shown are truly copyright free.

For this reason, we recommend that you always choose your images from a site where licensing information is clearly posted and easy to understand.

While there are many different image sites to choose from, these are our top six favorite sites for free images:

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. https://burst.shopify.com
  3. https://www.reshot.com
  4. https://pixabay.com
  5. https://gratisography.com/
  6. https://pxhere.com/

Not only do these sites contain breathtakingly beautiful images, they all also clearly state that their images are available for both commercial and non-commercial use and that credit to the photographer is not required but is, as always, appreciated.

And the best part? Sticking to one of these sites for your image searches will ensure that you can have peace of mind in knowing that you will not be in jeopardy of unknowingly committing a copyright infringement.

 **Note: While the sites we recommend do have copyright free images, it is always important to read the fine print before using an image. Although the image itself may be free to use, some of the things depicted in the images (such as identifiable people, landmarks, or trademarked logos) may have other copyrights or trademarks that require consent from a third party.

Crafting Tourism Industry Content

By Jennifer Babisak


The award-winning television drama “Mad Men” fed viewers much more than a weekly dose of suspense and eye-candy. Though the focus sometimes drifted more to Don Draper’s sexcapades than his creative mind, the show still gave an intriguing peek into the inner workings of an advertising agency.


The Art of Emotional Appeal

The tourism industry would do well to pay attention to some of the marketing strategies that Sterling Cooper Draper Price employed during the show’s seven seasons. For instance, Don was a master of crafting emotional appeal. “This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine,” he said of a Kodak slide projector, “It’s called a carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels, around and around and back home again to a place where we know we are loved.”

The efficacy of such emotional appeal applies to much more than slide projectors. Emotive appeals work particularly well in the tourism industry, where destinations have spun their wheels with straightforward marketing techniques, targeting consumers’ rational purchasing-power, for far too long.

Vacation Time and Stress-Management

Americans have a track-record of exceedingly poor stress management. In addition to financial and health stressors, the widespread use of smartphones has brought twenty-four hour workplace connectivity and an unending barrage of horrific news headlines. You would think a chronic stressful lifestyle would send employees running for the hills come vacation time. But a recent Harris Interactive survey presented the startling finding that American employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off.

Yes, you read that correctly. Chronically stressed employees are leaving vacation time sitting on the shelf. They want vacations, need vacations, and have the means to take vacations. All that lacks is an effective tourism industry appeal, motivating enough to cause Americans to break through their fog of stress and take the action of booking a vacation.

And guess what? Bulleted lists reciting a destination’s most recent million-dollar renovations won’t spur the apathetic consumer to action. What these potential tourists- ripe for the persuading- need is carefully constructed marketing content brimming with emotional appeal.

Emotional Content Standouts

Major destinations are waking up to the value of using emotional appeal in marketing campaigns. Most notably, Las Vegas employed the incredibly successful tagline, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” refining its image as a hedonistic escape from the boundaries of daily life.

vegas2And the longest running tourism campaign in history, “Virginia is for Lovers,” began back in 1969. In the ensuing years, Virginia has capitalized on the marketing value of those words- posturing itself as a romantic getaway filled with warmth and charm.
But emotive content goes beyond concise taglines. The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau recently launched a campaign to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The CVB sent out an emotionally-charged series of e-mails, thanking travel industry professionals for their coverage of the city and highlighting its advances in the decade since Katrina.

The president of the CVB kicked off the campaign with an e-mail containing this message: , “So as we look back at what happened here 10 years ago, we want to give thanks to all of you who took us in when we had no place to go, helped us tell our story when we had no voice, helped us rebuild our homes and our city from ruin, celebrated our victories, showcased to the world what makes our city so special, and those of you who simply came to be our guests as we put the pieces back together. In the next nine days leading up to the 10th anniversary of Katrina, we will be sending you a short video, showcasing some of the improved aspects of New Orleans.”

Tugs at the heartstrings, right? And it creates, or renews, an emotional attachment to the city, drawing visitors in more than a simple list of “improved aspects” ever could. Note in his message where he thanks writers who “helped us tell our story.” That’s the goal of effective emotionally driven tourism content– telling the unique story of a destination.

Finding the Right Words

So how do you find the magical, emotive words that will lure droves of tourists to your destination? It’s actually a combination of careful research- discovering where your intended audience and your unique offerings intersect- along with meticulously crafted written content:

  • Evaluate where your revenue lags. Do you need to boost business during the week or on weekends? During peak times or off-season? Having a concrete goal in mind will help you focus on the proper audience.
  • Pinpoint your ideal tourist. Based on your revenue assessment, you should know whether you’re looking to attract more mid-week business travelers, family weekenders, or retired snowbirds. Familiarize yourself with the profile of your intended audience.
  • Discover the desires of your audience. What motivates these people to travel? Are they seeking escape, adventure, serenity, or relaxation? Hone in on a specific emotional motivation.
  • Review the offerings of your destination, searching for particular experiences that will appeal to your audience’s emotions. You don’t have to highlight your destination’s entire range- specific and well-defined focus on an emotionally appealing experience is in order.
  • Carefully craft your content, highlighting your chosen experiences in a fashion likely to appeal to your chosen audience. Take care to tailor your writing style to the vernacular of your audience. Genteel retirees aren’t likely to respond well to copy littered with hipster slang, while millennials magnetize to key-words tailored to their generation.
  • Maintain consistency across all modes of communication. Don’t cast your destination in one light on Facebook while presenting a different image in print brochures. Find your identity, articulate it well, and stay true to your message.

Such a strategy holds great potential for payoff. After all, the travel and tourism industry has an annual economic impact of around $6.5 trillion U.S. dollars, worldwide. And a Choice Hotels International survey found that Americans plan to spend 8% more on leisure travel and 5% more per trip in 2015 than they did the previous year.

With carefully-crafted, emotionally-driven content, you can ensure that a good chunk of those $6.5 trillion dollars lands squarely on your destination’s doorstep.

Astroturfing: The Icky Side of Social Media Marketing

It’s disingenuous. It’s dishonest. And, it’s everywhere.

It’s called “astroturfing”. Chances are, you’ve been exposed to it. And, if the folks behind it have done their jobs right, the chances are pretty good that you didn’t even know it.

Social media is powerful stuff. In its most basic form, it’s the high-tech equivalent of your best friend recommending Gap jeans or your next-door neighbor telling you that she never shops at XYZ grocery store anymore because the cashiers are rude.
The truth is, we’re all influenced by what our friends think. Most of us buy books or see films based on the recommendations of friends we trust. We’re probably more likely to try a new restaurant if a few people from work say the food’s good. And yes, if everybody jumped off a bridge . . .

Well, we’d probably at least think about it for a second.

But imagine if your friend was getting kickbacks from the Gap. If every time she plugged her favorite jeans, she got fifty bucks. Or if your neighbor was getting free groceries from XYZ grocery store’s competitors whenever she badmouthed the competition.

Ick, right?

Continue reading “Astroturfing: The Icky Side of Social Media Marketing”

Blog 2.0

Continuing my theme from a previous post about professional blogs, I want to talk a little bit about using your blog as a networking tool. So you’ve started your blog – now what? Learning how to navigate through the blogosphere is essential to building a solid readership and increasing your web visibility.

First, enroll in a blog search engine. These search engines are basically large indexes that encompass the blogging world, making it easy for readers to search for useful blogs in any given category. There are a lot of search engines out there, and most are free, so be sure to put your blog’s url in as many directories as possible. To get you started, some of the more popular blog search engines include www.technorati.com, www.blogsearchengine.com, www.blogsearch.google.com, www.icerocket.com, and www.blogdigger.com.

Start frequenting other blogs and leaving comments. Get your face out there – read other blogs (preferably in the same or similar genre as your own) and comment! Starting a rapport with other bloggers is essential to your blog’s health. Once you increase your visibility with these bloggers, you can start a relationship by asking them to link to your site, and vice-versa. Remember, just like a new friendship, these relationships take time to build.

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While you’re at it, start a blogroll, a list of other blogs and websites that you find interesting. The links in your blogroll should direct readers to useful or similar blogs to your own – think of it as your blog’s “Recommended Reading” list. Check your specific blogging system to find out how to start a blogroll.

Once you start networking among other bloggers, use trackbacks frequently. Now, what’s a trackback? A trackback sends a message from your server to another blogger’s server every time you reference one of their posts on your site. Trackbacks are great tools to use because, if that blogger supports trackbacks, they’ll know you’ve linked to them in your post — and that’s a great way to start connecting with bloggers in your industry. Once they know you’ve linked to them, they’ll be likely to start visiting your blog, and they may even decide to link back. Every blogging system has different rules and requirements for trackbacks, so a little research may be required before getting started. For more information on trackbacks check out the trackback tutorial at http://www.optiniche.com/blog/117/wordpress-trackback-tutorial/.

For extra points, install buttons to social bookmarking sites on your blog. This encourages readers to recommend their favorite posts to others. Make it easy for your readers to recommend your particularly interesting articles by installing del.icio.us, digg, reddit, and furl buttons directly on your site. These social bookmarking sites can increase traffic to your blog exponentially if you get a large enough following.

In order to have an effective blog, someone out there needs to be reading it! Increasing your web visibility may take a little time and some savvy research skills, but once you get the hang of the new web 2.0, the benefits will be invaluable to the life of your blog.

After you’ve established a rapport with some of your fellow bloggers, it may be time to approach them about checking out your product or service (and possibly dropping a mention of it on their blog). This has to be done pretty carefully. Check out some tips on email pitching bloggers here: www.searchenginehelp.org/social-media/suh-wing-and-a-miss/.